Annoying God – Genesis 32:24-30

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ … Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.'” (Genesis 32:22-30, NIV).

The method Jacob used here to obtain God’s blessing seems rather counter-intuitive to our innocuous efforts in seeking God. While we think we must approach God with religious formality and terminology to obtain His blessing, Jacob used an alternative methodology.  Jacob wrestled with and held on to God until God blessed him.

Prior to his wrestling match with God, Jacob was in the throes of a dilemma. God had commanded him to repatriate the land He had promised to Jacob’s father and grandfather, Isaac and Abraham. But, in order to do so Jacob had to confront his estranged brother, Esau–from whom Jacob had stolen his birthright–and Esau’s army of 400 men.

Anticipating a disastrous outcome to his rendezvous with Esau, Jacob had taken his family to a safe place. Then, Jacob proceeded to a place where he could be alone to seek God and plead for deliverance from Esau and reassure himself that he was doing God’s will by returning to the promised land. There, he encountered a man (an angel or theophany) and wrestled with him all night.

Jacob knew that he was wrestling with God (or God’s messenger) and gripped Him until the man promised God’s protection and deliverance on his journey to and settlement in the promised land. Despite the man wounding Jacob’s hip, Jacob continued to grasp the man until He agreed to bless him.

Jacob was what you might call indefatigable. Indefatigable means not yielding to fatigue, incapable of being tired out. Tireless or persistence is the more common way to describe this trait. Annoying and even obnoxious is this attribute carried to the extreme.

Continue reading

Dear God, Please Make It Snow! – Matthew 19:14

little-girl-praying“‘Allow the children to come to me,’ Jesus said. ‘Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children'” (Matthew 19:14, CEB).

One Saturday morning my little girl woke up early and came in my room and crawled into bed with me. Since I wanted to sleep in, I told her to close her eyes and go back to sleep.

As we were laying there I heard her whisper this prayer: “Dear God, Please make it snow so I can build a snowman.”

Her prayer was cute indeed. But was it biblical? Was it a prayer that God really answers?

Continue reading

An Effective, Fervent Christmas Prayer – James 5:16

fervent_group_prayer-sm“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16, KJV).

Recently I was asked to give the invocation at a public gathering for a Christmas event. I had time to reflect on what I might say for this Christmas prayer. As I considered the words and thoughts most commonly expressed in public prayers, I began to realize that our public prayers are often uttered so as to offend no one in the gathering.

Continue reading

Prayer Rising – Revelation 8:3-4

angel-incense-prayer“And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel” (Revelation 8:3-4, ESV).

The tabernacle and temple sanctuaries in the Old Testament had two altars, one for bloody sacrifice in the courtyard and the other for smoky incense inside, adjacent to the veil into the Most Holy Place (see Exodus 27:1–8; 30:1–10).

Continue reading

Why God Listens To You – Daniel 9:22-23

OldManPraying“Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision” (Daniel 9:22-2, NLT).

In 539 BC Daniel was studying the book of Jeremiah and read where Jeremiah prophesied the desolation of Jerusalem would be for seventy years.

Continue reading

When God’s Not Speaking – 1 Samuel 3

How-God-Speaks“And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent…Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him…Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle…What is the word that He spoke to you, Please do not hide it from me…And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:1,7,11,17,21, NASB).

In ancient Israel the presence of absence of God’s prophetic voice was considered to be evidence of the presence or absence of God and the presence or absence of His favor.

Continue reading

The Road From Faith to Faithfulness, Part 2: Happy Endings – John 4:46-54

Faith_Sign“Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living… and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee” (John 4:50-51,53-54, NASB).

In Part 1 of this meditation I compared and contrasted the predicament of the royal official in this story imploring Jesus to heal his dying son with my own pleas for God to heal my dying wife of terminal cancer.

Continue reading

The Road From Faith to Faithfulness, Part 1: The Destination – John 4:46-54

Faith_Sign“Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living… and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee” (John 4:50-51,53-54, NASB).

While Jesus was in Cana of Galilee, a royal official from Capernaum approached Jesus and asked Him to come to Capernaum and heal his son who was dying. Rather than accompanying the official the twenty miles to Capernaum, Jesus declared the boy was healed: “Go, your son lives” (vs. 50) and the man believed the words that Jesus spoke and returned to Capernaum on his own.

Continue reading

Praying For Rain – 1 Kings 18:42-44

prayer-for-rain“But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, Go and look out toward the sea. The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, I didn’t see anything. Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea. Then Elijah shouted, Hurry to Ahab and tell him, Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!” (1 Kings 18:42-44, NLT).

During this time of drought in our land we would do well to learn from the prophet Elijah how to effectively pray for rain.

Continue reading

The When, How, Who, and Why of Prayer – Ephesians 6:18-19

soldier_prayer“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:18-19, ESV).

Although the Apostle Paul tells us the when, how, who, and why of prayer in these two verses, we should consider the context in which he is giving this admonition.

Continue reading