“And Jacob called the name of the place ‘Peniel—for I have seen God face-to-Face and my life is preserved’.”

Genesis 32:30

Once we’ve wrestled with God, we’ll never walk the same or look at life the same.

The struggles of the soul are most often solitary ones (v.24a). And, it’s in our one-on-One encounters with the living God that we’re irreversibly changed.

Such was certainly the case with Jacob.

After having been gone from home for 20 years, the God of Abraham told him to “return to the land of his fathers and his kindred” (Gen. 31:3a). No doubt that unnerved this one, whose name means “Deceiver” or “Supplanter,” for his enraged brother, Esau, had told him he was going to kill him when their dad died (Gen. 27:41)—and he had no way of knowing if Isaac was now dead or alive.

And when he sent messengers back home to let Esau know he was coming and learned he was coming to meet him with 400 men, Jacob was naturally “greatly afraid and distressed” (32:7). Wouldn’t you have been?

Most assuredly.

That’s why he divided everything and everyone he had into two groups (v.7b). Like a military general, he was figuring his worst-case scenario strategy and how he could at least save part of his dear family, servants and possessions (v.8).

But, then Jacob did an interesting thing:

He began to pray and remind God of His promises to him (vv.9-12). But, he still kept Plan B intact by making sure his Escape Plan was being implemented (vv.13-20).

So much for “living by faith.”

Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Lord God sneaked up on him that night by the brook Jabbok as everyone slept (v.24). Although Jacob possibly thought it was one of Esau’s hired assassins or even Esau himself, he soon realized the One with whom he was wrestling was no ordinary, human foe.

That’s why this one who’d always figured out how to get what he wanted by slick talks and sly moves refused to let go of this angelic wrestler. He knew this one had been sent from God and he wasn’t about to let him go until he blessed him (v.26). Glory!!

Dear Pilgrim, too often our prayers are powerless because they’re passionless. If they don’t move us, why should we expect them to move God? Prevailing prayers are “travailing or wrestling prayers.” And only those who get a hold on God in this way can expect Him to give “the desires of the heart” (Ps. 37:4). Just remember: Like Jacob, you’ll never walk the same again after your encounter with Him at your Peniel (vv.25, 31). But, that’s okay—for brokenness before Him has a way of giving us “power with God and power with men” (v.28b). Thank You, Lord.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated April 20, 2010

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