Wrestling well before God in Prayer.
Prayer is work. Oh, not the careless “God bless the world and God bless me” prayers which I have often prayed over the years. Not the going-through-the-motions feeling with no real heart exertion type prayers that we all have shot up to heaven many times. No.
I’m talking about the real gut wrenching, sweat pouring, tear flowing moments that absolutely break us into something beautiful before God. It often isn’t until we are absolutely desperate that God can get our full attention like this. And it’s in those moments where we get to the end of ourselves and avail much blessing. This is where prayer is the hard work, but also where prayer has its work within us, blessing us, breaking us like Jacob.
According to P.T. Forsyth in The Soul of Prayer, “prayer is an encounter of wills-till one will or the other give way It is not a spiritual exercise merely, but in its maturity it [prayer] is a cause acting on the course of God’s world. It is, indeed, by God’s grace that prayer is a real cause, but such it is. And of course, there must be in us a faith corresponding to that grace.” With such power access, why would we not spend more of ourselves in this endeavor?
But spiritual matters take much energy. It isn’t in our physical makeup to be focused so long as is often required in attentive prayer. It requires faith on our part and grace on His that we even dare approach Him with our intercessions and heart’s pleadings. Evil wants to attack us constantly and pull us into despair and spiritual defeat. But we must strive to overcome the obstacles to truly wrestle well with God.
We can learn some great tips in how to struggle in prayer from Jacob:
1. Slip away by yourself. Demands on our time, our energy, our attention bombard us daily. It isn’t until we turn off the rest of the world that we can solely focus and get down to the business of prayer.
2. Take care of unconfessed sin. Well, we didn’t learn this from Jacob, but it is worth saying. Get a clean slate up front. Jesus took care of the Penalty of our sin at huge cost to Himself, so we must not ever take this for granted.
3. Keep praying. Don’t get lazy and give up! Have the tenacity of the widow who would not take no for an answer. Wrestle all night if you must and hang tightly to Him.
4. Pray with faith, knowing that He hears and answers every prayer of His children. Jacob was a child of the Promise. He knew his rightful inheritance.–not the one he stole from his brother, Esau, but the rich inheritance of God’s Promise.
That blessing Jacob sought became the most important thing to Jacob, and he got it.The meaning of the name of the river Jabbok where this all took place is “to empty oneself.” Jacob had to get to the end of himself before he could be blessed and used mightily by God. This was happening for years, but that night at the Jabbok River, Jacob wrestled well with God. And a whole lot happened. His heart changed, he forever walked from then on with a limp, and he was given a new name, Israel because “he wrestled with God and with men and prevailed.” Gen. 32:28
We don’t have to fight or wrestle with God because we will be crippled at best–remember Jacob. But we must wrestle before God with all our heart. And we must be careful not to be lazy and give up.
Let us put up a good, glory-is-at-stake fight and find ourselves empowered with His strength!
Are you wrestling well with God? What lingers this week for you as you read about these patriarchs of the Bible?
Reading through the Bible chronologically with devotions from Come Boldly: Timeless Daily Encouragements on Prayer that pair with the Scripture readings. Genesis 25-42. Come Boldly, wrestling in prayer, pp. 31, 49, 103, 164 243, 250, 272; and mentions of Isaac, p. 162; Jacob, pp. 81, 103, 162, 175, 253: & Joseph, p. 162.