Jacob sent messengers to Esau to inform him that he was returning to Canaan and wanted to make peace with him. The messengers returned to Jacob with the news that Esau was preparing to meet him with a battalion of warriors. Jacob adopted a three-pronged response to this news: he sent Esau a generous gift to try to appease him, he prayed to G d, and he prepared for war if it would prove necessary.
Selfless Prayer
קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים וּמִכָּל הָאֱמֶת אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ אֶת עַבְדֶּךָ וגו': (בראשית לב:יא)
[Jacob began his prayer], “I am no longer worthy, due to all the acts of kindness and trustworthiness that You have done for me, Your servant.” Genesis 32:11

Although Jacob was certainly aware of his many merits, he was also able to rise above natural human shortsightedness and realize how infinitely indebted we are all to G‑d. With this perspective, Jacob humbly assumed that his merits were insufficient to deserve G‑d’s protection. Therefore, he petitioned G‑d to save him and his family not on account of his own merits – although he was indeed worthy – but out of His pure kindness.

Following Jacob’s example, whenever we ask something of G‑d, we too should appeal solely to His kindness and compassion. If we ask for assistance based on our worthiness – and we all certainly possess many merits – G‑d’s response will be limited to the extent of our worthiness. But when we humbly disregard our worthiness, demonstrating that we, like Jacob, have risen above our natural shortsightedness, G‑d will respond with blessings that transcend the natural order.1