Spoken Prayer – Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
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Jacob Wrestles With God
by Pr. Dave Mann
This story of Jacob wrestling with God is one that has perplexed me for some time. Is this a negative behavior of Jacob, which God allowed to happen but which we should not try to imitate? Or, is it a good thing, a commendable accomplishment, that Jacob wrestles with the angel (and therefore God)? Is this something that we should emulate?
On the one hand, I can see that Jacob’s behavior is not something that we should aspire to. We should rather calmly place our trust in God and believe that he is leading us to what is right and good. Consider these passages:
2 Chronicles 16:9 -- For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
Isaiah 26:3 -- You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God.
On the other hand, God desires us to live out a real-life relationship. He does not want us to pretend that we believe when we still have genuine internal struggles. There are numerous passages that indicate we should live in this kind of intense struggle.
Luke 18:1-8 – The widow in persistent prayer
Luke 11:5-10 – The persistent neighbor knocking on the door
Philippians 3:12-14 – Paul’s exhortation to “press on” for the upward calling of God
In the end, I believe both are true. There are times when we wrestle and struggle with God in prayer, seeking to know his will for our lives. At other times, we are called to rest in Him, to cease from our striving, knowing that his will is always for our good. From that time on, we may walk with a limp, with the marks of being in relationship with God.
The key in this passage is verse 28. “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Jacob’s identity is no longer “deceiver” or “trickster.” But now, his identity is in a relationship with God, “Israel,” a wrestler with the Lord of the universe. May we engage with God in all our struggles in life. As we wrestle in prayer with the Lord, he changes who we are and what we want, to match his will.
Lord of the universe, there are times when life is a struggle. Let my struggles be with you in prayer. As I plead my case before you, shape me and mold me into the person you want me to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.