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.