“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” . . . Then he blessed him there. (Genesis 32: 26, 29)
Jacob won the victory and the blessing here not by wrestling but by clinging. His hip was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle further, he locked his arms around the neck of his mysterious opponent, helplessly resting all his weight upon him, until he won at last.
We too will not win the victory in prayer until we cease our struggling. We must give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father’s neck in clinging faith.
What can our feeble human strength take by force from the hand of omnipotence? Are we able to wrestle blessings from God by force? Strong-willed violence on our part will never prevail with Him. What wins blessings and victories is the strength of clinging faith.
It is not applying pressure or insisting upon our own will that brings victory. It is won when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22: 42).
We are strong with God only to the degree that self is conquered and is dead. Blessings come not by wrestling but by clinging to Him in faith.
~J. R. Miller
An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher illustrates how “wrestling prayer” is actually a hindrance to prevailing prayer. He shared this story: “My little boy, Frank, was very ill, and the doctors held out little hope of his recovery. I used all the prayer knowledge I possessed on his behalf, but he continued to worsen. This went on for several weeks.
“One day as I stood watching him while he lay on his bed, I realized he could not live much longer without a quick turn for the better. I said to the Lord, ‘Oh, God, I have spent much time in prayer for my son, and yet he is no better. I will now leave him to You and give myself to prayer for others. If it is Your will to take him, I choose Your will— I surrender him entirely to You.’
“I called in my dear wife and told her what I had done. She shed some tears but also handed him over to God. Two days later a godly man came to visit us. He had been very interested in our son Frank and had prayed often for him. He told us, ‘God has given me faith to believe that your son will recover. Do you have that faith?’
“I responded, ‘I have surrendered him to God, but I will now go again to Him regarding my son.’ I did just that and while in prayer discovered I had faith for his recovery. From that time forward he began to get better. I then realized that it was the ‘wrestling’ of my prayers that had hindered God’s answer, and that if I had continued to wrestle, being unwilling to surrender him to God, he would probably not be here today.”
O dear child of God, if you want God to answer your prayers, you must be prepared to “walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had” (Rom. 4: 12), even to the mountain of sacrifice.
Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim (2008-09-09). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 212). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.