A Life Changing Encounter With God
We often hear of wrestling in prayer. The expression in the Bible first appears in the real life story recorded in the book of Genesis. If we want to truly understand the meaning of wrestling in prayer, we need to look back at Jacob’s extraordinary encounter with the angel of God in Genesis 32.
But first, we need some context.
After fleeing from his home as a young man having stolen his brother Esau’s blessing by deceiving their father Isaac, Jacob is now faced with having to go back home. In the hopes of not losing his entire family as a result of his brother’s anger, Jacob decides to take his wives and his eleven children across the river Jabbok. He then separated himself from them to be alone. It’s during this moment of solitude that Jacob meets the One he could have only imagined in his dreams. From evening until the break of dawn, Jacob wrestled with a stranger, a man. Yet this was no ordinary man. Jacob knew this man had come to him at a time when he needed help, reassurance for his family’s well being and a special blessing. Even the man’s wrestling seemed unique.
As Jacob fought and wrestled with all his might, he was actually fighting for his life and fighting to become a new man, one who was no longer known to be a deceiver.
One would think Jacob would have given up after a couple of hours but it was not the case. With each breath he took, he became more determined and more desperate to fight and get a hold of the blessing he sought. As if his opposition had not understood, Jacob made it clear: “I will not let go unless you bless me ” (Genesis 32:26b).
This kind of desperate cry for God’s blessing is what wrestling in prayer looks like. We must keep going back to God with our prayers, determined to keep on seeking all day and all night if necessary until our prayers are answered. To say that our prayers will be answered as we wish is not the case, yet if we persist and do not waver in our faith, we can trust that God surely will answer. For this, we need faith! After all, James reminds us in his letter to ask everything “in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Without faith, we will receive nothing from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
The peak of Jacob’s wrestling came from a place of faith, determination, and desperation but also from a place of surrender. Jacob did not hold back from fighting or revealing his emotions to his opponent. This was his moment: would he ever see God again face to face like this? He was likely unaware that the man standing before him was indeed the Lord yet he knew this man to be unique and had the ability to give him what he needed most. Without a doubt and despite a hip out of its joint as a result of his wrestling, Jacob never regretted the night-long encounter which took place. Born a new man with a new identity and with a blessing now over his life, his time of wrestling was never in vain. Can you say the same thing?
Have you ever wrestled in prayer, holding tightly to God as for dear life?
Has your need for God and for his blessing over your life and/or that of your loved ones been so consuming that you spent more than a simple hour watching at night? How much do you really need God? How much are you willing to depend on Him?
Some situations require a simple prayer while others necessitate holding on to Jesus’s garment because that is the only place we can find our answered prayer.
Has your prayer life become stale? Does it seem like all you are getting are no’s?
It may be time to put on sackcloth and ashes, fasting with purpose and intention, isolating yourself for a while to meet with the Lord and fight in prayer until your last breath.
Until you truly believe that God can and will answer your prayers, until you’re willing to put action behind your faith in a match of a lifetime, you will miss on a life-changing and heart transforming experience with God.
When some situations become too hard to bear, know that there’s a God already waiting to meet you and discuss your situation over with you. He intentionally meets us where we are, having set a divine appointment with us as He did with Jacob.
At times, God will allow some situations to take place because our hearts have been hardened. Some of these situations are what God uses to draw us closer to Him and trigger the wrestling that we need to experience. God is not afraid to wrestle with us. In fact, He is pleased to see how much faith and trust we place in Him. The wrestling ends when we have turned over everything into the hands of the Lord and submitted to His will.
So now that you know more about wrestling in prayer, how does it help shape a new perspective in your mind? Will you continue to run away from some situations because they seem too hard to deal with or give up on your unanswered prayers? Or will you run to the One who stood at the cross? Do you need to be broken like Jacob so you too can surrender yourself to the Lord
As you continue in your Christian walk, may you not fear experiencing what Jacob went through. May you come to depend on Jehovah, the Lord Almighty more each day and view your prayer time as sacred time and maybe even wrestling time. And finally, may you encounter the Holy God in your own unique ‘Peniel’ or ‘Gethsemane’ experience.