Gen 32:24 “And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.”
Gen 32:22-32 recorded the physical wrestling that Jacob had with a Man. Jacob said of this Man in Gen 32:30 “…For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” With the benefit of New Testament knowledge, we now understand that this Man is none other than the pre-incarnate God-Man Jesus Christ.
The passage tells us that Jacob refused to let go. He persisted in asking to be blessed. It is a picture of a man who relentlessly sought God till He found favour with Him. It is a reminder of how we ought to wrestle in prayer with God to seek Him.
What is the benefit of wrestling in prayer? Doesn’t God already know what we are going to ask? Hasn’t He already pre-determined the outcome? Certainly. But we are the ones who don’t understand what we are asking. We don’t know the implications of what we are asking for. We don’t know how God has designed the future for our good. All the uncertainty is with us, not Him.
Wrestling in prayer makes us articulate the issues surrounding our petitions. When we wrestle in prayer, we lay bare the exact reasons and motivations for what we ask. In a sense, we are having a “dialogue” with God. As a result, we may even “change our minds” or change what we ask for along the way of wrestling in prayer. We may realise our folly; we may realise we are sinful. It is therefore common that wrestling in prayer results in our confession of sins. And we acknowledge even the sinfulness of our petitions. And by this process of wrestling in prayer, our wills become aligned to God’s will.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.” 1 John 5:21.
So prayer is not about having our wills being fulfilled. It is a process where we learn about God’s will – and seek that “His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”. It is the process by which we learn to submit to Him as our Heavenly Father. The more we wrestle in prayer, the more we will marvel at the majesty and glory of God. The more we will submit to His sovereignty and will. So let us wrestle in prayer.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV)
Earlier, we saw how the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians in Eph 1:17-21. It did not end there. He continues his supplication for them. From Ephesians 3:14-19, he bowed in prayer asking for the following 3 things for the Ephesian Christians:
- that God would grant them…to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
- that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith;
- that they…..may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Are these what we ask for in prayer as well? Let us learn to turn our prayers from “petitions for earthly outcomes” to supplications of heavenly desires, that our minds may be set on things above and not things on the earth. May God teach us how to pray.
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:17-21 NKJV)
How do we pray? What should we pray for? What does your church pray for during prayer meetings? For Jane’s recovery from illness, for Jim’s job, for Jenny’s travels, for Jack’s studies, etc? Don’t get me wrong. God is interested in every detail of our lives. But observe the 5 things that the Apostle Paul asks for in his prayers for the Ephesians in Eph 1:17-21
- that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ …may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (v17)
- that “the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened” (v18);
- That “.. you may know what is the hope of His calling” (v18)
- that you may know “… the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (v18)
- That you may know ..”the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…” (19)
Why does the Apostle Paul ask for the above 5 things for the Ephesians? Because when we have the above 5 things, our perspective towards God, prayer & everything in this life will be totally different. Our petitions will not be man-oriented but God-centred. Our motivations will be “for His glory” and not ours.
Isn’t this how did our Lord Jesus taught us to pray? …”Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” It’s all about God and not us. When we have sorted out that priority, we will also understand what Jesus meant when He told us “..seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto us..” May God teach us how we should pray.