Wrestling with God

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”

Genesis 32:24


What is Wrestling?

  1. Wrestling in this context describes praying desperately to obtain God’s blessing in an emergency.
  2. Wrestling is one of the most intense and exhausting athletic endeavors among all sport activities.
  3. The lesson is that Jacob would not let God go until He blessed him, which is very intense praying.
  4. God makes Himself available and vulnerable to righteous saints, who fervently and effectually pray.
  5. For effectual praying to work, it must be a very fervent, intense and passionate, activity (James 5:16).

Winning at Wrestling

  1. Jacob won the wrestling match with God, for (1) the LORD could not prevail over him (32:25), the LORD declared him the winner (32:28), the LORD changed His name in honor of the victory (32:28), and the LORD blessed him marvelously and wonderfully with Esau (32:29; 33:4,9,15).
  2. Jacob’s earlier verbal prayer shows worship (32:9), claiming God’s promises (32:9), humility (32:10), thanksgiving (32:10), honesty and openness (32:11), and claiming God’s promises again (32:12).
  3. What is the key from this lesson for successful praying? Importunate insistence without quitting (Matt 15:21-28; Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-8; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; I Thess 5:17)!

The Need for Wrestling

  1. The situation facing Jacob was quite dangerous: his vengeful brother was coming with 400 men.
  2. Though Jacob had gotten himself into this predicament, he now had to beg God for help to get out.
  3. Jacob’s 11 sons and a daughter were 12 years of age and under – vulnerable (32:22 cp Gen 31:38,41).
  4. It is not a matter if you will face such situations in life, but when you will face them. Get ready.
  5. Think health, finances, soul, children, marriage, job, church, dilemmas, enemies, nation, and so on.

Going from Bad to Worse

  1. During the wrestling match, God put Jacob’s thigh out of joint, which made wrestling even more difficult and would render him even more vulnerable to Esau and his 400 men.
  2. If you are praying earnestly for a matter, and the situation gets worse, do not be discouraged. The blessing is just ahead! Remember Jacob here and the Canaanite women elsewhere (Matt 15:21-28).

Asking for the Wrong Thing

  1. The scriptures warn us of asking for the wrong thing to consume it on our lusts (Jas 4:3; I John 5:14).
  2. Let us not do this, but let Jacob’s error save you worry and give you boldness and comfort (32:29)!

The Wrestling Assistant

  1. You cannot pray as you ought by yourself, but the Holy Spirit prays for you perfectly (Rom 8:26-27).
  2. This is another means by which the blessed God of heaven makes Himself very vulnerable to you!
  3. However, the Holy Spirit does not pray for those who grieve or quench Him (Eph 4:30; I Thess 5:19).
  4. And the Holy Spirit is not going to pray very often for those who are not praying themselves!

The Wrestling Reminder

  1. Jacob and his descendants had a new name, which memorialized this great prayer victory (32:28).
  2. Jacob never walked the same again, and Israel always remembered the thigh sinew (32:31-32).
  3. Hosea remembered this great event 1500 years later when preaching to Israel (Hosea 12:3-5).
  4. When God is merciful to you in prayer, do you praise and remember His goodness to you?