Wrestling well – Jacob

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?

pray

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.

Come Boldly in 2014 – Three: Abraham

How long, Oh Lord?

“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!” Habakkuk 1:2 KJV

“To develop God-focused or God centered praying, we need to develop the discipline of clinging to God when nothing seems to be happening. Let God know you will not let go of Him”–Come Boldly, p.162

Abraham waited over twenty-five years from the time God first told him about making him the father of many nations. The Word doesn’t directly mention how frustrated he and Sarah must have been in the wait, but somewhere along the way, they devised their own plan with Hagar and Ishmael was born. But he would not be the child of the promise. God had a plan that would be accomplished, and He didn’t need their “help.”

Meanwhile, another decade passes before the angelic visit where Sarah laughs out loud at the preposterous notion of being ninety years old and pregnant. But within the year, Abraham and Sarah would  understand that with God, nothing is impossible.

As I think about Abraham, I remember my own things I am waiting on God for, things that I, frankly, have lost hope for. And Abraham encourages me to renew trust and wait with expectation.

We do not know what God is doing for us in the wait. But we can be confident that He is working out the details, even when we think we’ve been forgotten. When we pray and God appears silent, it hurts. We have a tendency to get discouraged and fall away. But there are some things we can learn from Abraham to help us fare well in the wait.

Put up an altar. Worship him every step of the way. Abraham stopped and set up an altar and worshipped with his family every time he moved camp.

Have faith. Trust in the good God you’ve come to know, and the plan He has for you even if it looks very different from what you see. Faith is “a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence towards us, which, being founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ, is both revealed to our minds, and confirmed to our hearts, by the Holy Spirit.” (John Calvin) 

Stay on the right track. Don’t devise your own plan thinking you need to help God along. Wait on His direction, His provision, His strength to see you through the wait, for as long as it takes.

Be obedient. Even when it looks like the very provision God makes for us is about to be destroyed, stick with His plan. He will see it to completion. Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Remember His faithfulness. Instead of reviewing all the ways He has not changed our current situation, recall all the ways He has shown you His Love and faithfulness.

Keep pounding the door of heaven. Cling to Him. Trust in His goodness. Rest in His sovereignty. Even though it’s taking longer than you think it should…Believe on God and it will be counted to you as righteousness.

Are you waiting on something that doesn’t seem to be happening? Do you feel forgotten by God? Would you like to renew your faith that God is working in that situation? Is there something in particular that you would like to pray for together? Leave a comment or your thoughts, and thanks for stopping by today!

Reading through the Bible chronologically with devotions from Come Boldly: Timeless Daily Encouragements on Prayer that pair with the Scripture readings. Job 35-42Gen. 12-24. Come Boldly Pages 77, 179, and mentions of Abraham pp. 62, 63, 162, 253.

Come Boldly in 2014 – One: Genesis

Reading through the Bible chronologically with devotions from Come Boldly: Timeless Daily Encouragements on Prayer that pair with the Scripture readings.

Genesis 1-11; Job 1-9.    Come Boldly Page 55, 197, 288

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” ~ John 1:1-4

Genesis. A new page. A fresh start. The Grand Story, our story, begins with a Word. The Word spoke, and out of nothing, a world filled with wonder was created. Simply a Word was spoken and it all was. And in this fashion, the world was established, from light and darkness, to waters and fish, to grass and birds, etc. Speaking a Word and making it so. But then God does something unexpected. The One Who could have simply uttered a word of life into the clayed form breathes down His own mighty Breath and inspires a soul, breathing Life into man.

Take a deep breath. Breathe in and inspire the Breath you first breathed, oh soul of mine. Drink in His Spirit and utter back His praises with your next breath. You and I were created to praise Him. From beginning to end. 

Job. Wow, what can we say about Job? First thing that comes to mind is “glad I am not Job.” Few of us have been tested the way Job was.  But Job got it.  Our natural bent is to run from the testing, or fall away in faith, but Job stuck with God. “Though He slay me. Yet will I trust Thee.” Job 13:15. Though we may not be tested in the same ways Job was, we still have hard circumstances that can become opportunities for growing our faith. And that means holding on even when things aren’t going well at all for us.We must also realize that our enemy, the devil is actively opposing us in our walk of faith. He’s looking for ways to steal our belief, to cause us to doubt God’s trustworthiness. Also, the Book of Job reminds us that we are rarely aware of the cosmic forces that are in combat as we pray.

Lord, Just a nod, a simple word spoken over our lives, and it is done. Father, speak over our lives. Breathe Your Breath of Life into our ashen hearts into our lives and we will live. Let us use our next  breath to offer back to you the praise that You deserve. Teach us to trust, like Job, like other heroes of the faith such as Noah that You are reliable and well worth our trust. Help us to remember that “every breath is a second chance,” another opportunity to trust more. In the faithful Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.”