Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
A vow is a conscious and deliberate promise based on a condition—if…then. Jacob’s vow is the first of nearly thirty in Scripture, most occurring in the Old Testament. There are two interpretations of Jacob’s vow. Some believe that Jacob was bargaining with God, saying, in effect, “God I will hold up my end of the bargain if you hold up yours.” Others say that Jacob was demonstrating faith, for the Hebrew word can also be translated “since.” “Since you will be with me and keep me then you shall be my God.” One commentator says it is likely both are true. He writes, “Jacob believed God’s Word, but there was still enough of the ‘old man’ in him to try to bargain with God the way he bargained with Esau and Isaac. He was so accustomed to ‘scheming’ that he tried to scheme his way into God’s blessing!” 
I can relate to believing and bargaining, can’t you? We know God is God and that he always has our best interests at heart, but the desire for control, for skin in the game, leads to the bargaining. God, if you do such-and-such for me, then I’ll do such-and-such for you. Real prayer is bargain-less. Dependence on ourselves is antithetical to dependence on God. How can we make a deal with the One who has already given us everything? What do we have to offer him but our humble worship?
- Ask God to forgive you for making bargains with him. Thank him for providing you everything you need. Tell him the desires of your heart expressing your full dependence on him.
- Ask God to help you teach your children of his unconditional love—that God who did not spare his own Son will give them everything they need
And…keep the bargain-less communication going throughout the day.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Gen. 28:16–22). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
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