“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there.” Genesis 32:24-29
Praying and wrestling with God are not mutually exclusive activities. Together they form the process God uses to conform you to His will. The conforming process is also a transforming one. For Jacob it resulted in a bad hip and a new name. If you choose to prevail in prayer your transformation will be no less painful, and just as permanent.
Coming to the end of yourself requires you to bring yourself to a wrestling match with God. Remember this. God wins. This only happens…EVERY TIME.
Jacob prayed, “Deliver me, I pray.” He didn’t’ know what he was saying, but he was praying. This is a huge step in the right direction. God knew what Jacob needed, before he asked for it. He always does. Answered prayer does not depend on asking the right question. It depends of asking the right Person.
Jacob prayed to be delivered from the wrath of his brother, Esau. God intended for him to be delivered from his real enemy, himself. Jacob’s confidence in his capacity to connive his way out of trouble had to be crushed forever, not temporarily.
Any parent knows that rescuing a child from a bad situation is no guarantee they won’t have to do it again. What needs to be changed is the poor decision-making process their child uses that leads them to repeating the same mistake. A bad habit becomes a way of life if a parent removes the consequences without improving their child’s character. But I digress.
With all his character flaws, and his dismal track record of tricks and deceit, Jacob did the one thing that put him on the right path. He prayed. When he prayed he received God’s direction, protection and correction, not for a moment, but forever. In spite of his weak foundation, Jacob was a firm believer in prayer. God can always build something on that.
Scripture records Jacob wrestled all night. As the dawn was breaking, he was desperate for what he needed most. He pleaded for it with his last gasp of hope.
“I will not let you go until you bless me.”
God intended to transform the trickster and deceiver into a prince of His people. This had always been His plan. Jacob’s wrestling with God did not change God’s mind, or twist His arm. He desired to give Jacob a blessing. He was not withholding it. Jacob was resisting it. The wrestling was a prolonged, painful process, but it changed Jacob’s heart to receive a blessing from God.
The blessing Jacob was seeking was not the one God was intending. He blessed him anyway. The dislocated hip changed the way he walked, and his new name widened his responsibilities. Every painful step he took for the rest of his life, and every time his name was called, would be a reminder Israel was a changed man.
NOTE TO SELF: This is the process of prayer. Prayer prepares you to get on board with God’s plan for your life. Prayer is not your invitation to instruct God about your plan. When God answers your prayer expect to be changed before He changes anything or anyone else. You may not have asked for His plan, but you need it. Prayer puts you in a position to receive it. Assume the position. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!