There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15 NIV)
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)
How often in your prayers do you ask God to be with someone? I do it all the time, although I’m trying to break the habit. It is totally appropriate to ask God to keep one of His promises. I do think it is important that we are aware that this is what we’re doing when we make the “be with” request.
God communicates with Jacob in clear and dramatic ways. Jacob could get the impression that God is only present during these special times and in specific places. God wants him to recognize that He is always present, so He makes Jacob a promise. It seems likely that Jacob communicated this promise to his family since Joseph clearly recognized God’s promise through all his ordeals in Egypt.
The disciples received a similar promise. Jesus had been physically present in their lives for most of three years. They were in shock after Jesus’ resurrection and had several encounters with Jesus, but the gospels make it clear that Jesus was not present with them all the time. As He prepares to ascend, Jesus gives the disciples an assignment and makes them a promise. Jesus tells them that this promise of His presence is good until the end of the age. I think that means that this promise applies to us as well.
Since Jesus has promised to be with us to the end of the age, what should we pray for those we’re concerned about? I find that I’m not constantly aware of God’s presence. When facing a difficult situation, I often think I’m heading into it alone. I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels this way. What I could use are prayers that I would be aware of God’s presence and filled with the courage that comes from knowing I’m not alone. I think others could also benefit from this prayer, so I do my best to catch myself and pray this request whenever I’m tempted to ask God to be with someone.
For my grandchildren:
Remember that God is always with you.