“Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, …”” Judges 16:28 NKJV
This was Samson’s prayer when he was humiliated by the Philistines. He had lost his eyes. He had lost his great strength. But in the depth of such helplessness, he prayed. Lo and behold, the LORD heard him. And the LORD answered his prayer! Here are 2 lessons I see amongst many in this verse:
Firstly, Jesus taught us to ask, even when it seems ridiculously “out of our mind” to do so. He told us the parable of the friend who came at midnight seeking for some food to entertain his visitor. It was simply unthinkable to make such a request. Yet, the request was granted because of the persistence of the one who asked.
The lesson for us is simply this: we may be brought to a humbled state due to our own folly and we feel “too embarrassed” to ask for God’s mercies. Yet, we ought to ask. Samson did just that and God answered his prayer.
Secondly, God’s grace is amazing & supernatural. God is not obligated to grant sinners any pardon or privilege. Unfortunately, many people only realise this when they are in circumstances similar to what Samson was experiencing. But God’s grace is amazing and supernatural. He did not need to answer Samson’s cry for help. Yet, He did.
This passage exists in the scriptures to help us appreciate the fact that God’s grace was extended to a sinner who called out for help. It was a sinner who ought to be ashamed of all the wrong he had done, all the misuse of gifts and privileges bestowed to him. And this prayer of a totally unworthy sinner was heard by a God who is gracious and merciful. And this God could extend His pardon to sinners was possible because He earned their pardon by His own Son’s death on the cross.
“ Lord , make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them.” Psa 39:4-6
This is a sober reminder of how frail we are, that God is the Creator and we the creatures. How important it is that we have a right measure of ourselves before our Creator! This will keep us humble and meek in our interactions with fellow men.
Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there. 2 Chr 32:20-21
Judah was faced with an impending military threat. They were about to be attacked by Assyria whose armies are far superior in every way. In response to this threat, the verse says that Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed and cried out to heaven. And the Lord responded with deliverance.
How often have we missed deliverance and help because we failed to pray? Because we failed to be aware the God is present at every situation we encounter, we attempt to handle the situation with our own wisdom and strength. This verse is a reminder that we ought to pray at all times. God is near us and will respond to our call for help.
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.