The Wrestling Match

There is a certain story in the book of Genesis that fascinates me. I have read it numerous times, but recently it has been pulling at me and I can’t get it out of my head. Let’s look at Genesis 32:22-32 (NKJV).

And [Jacob] arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”

But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

So He said to him, “What is your name?”

He said, “Jacob.”

And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”

And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.

Here is a little backstory. After many years, Jacob is about to be reunited with his brother, Esau. Jacob is scared because when they parted ways, it was not on good terms. He spends the night wrestling with “a Man.” Some scholars believe he was wrestling with Jesus. Others say it was an angel. Generically, you might hear he wrestled with God. He was definitely wrestling with someone sent by God.

I have been pondering this story and asking God why it has gripped me so much. One aspect has to do with prayer. Many commentaries point to the thought that we may wrestle with God in prayer. I don’t know that I wrestle in prayer. But I would say I struggle with prayer. I do pray daily and often. But I admit that at times I feel defeat in prayer. I allow doubt to creep in. Of course, this comes from the enemy. He knows how powerful prayer is and he will try to stop us from connecting with our Father. But Jesus reminds us in Luke 18 that we “should always pray and not give up.” Even when we feel like our prayers aren’t being answered, God always hears us. E.M. Bounds said, “Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them.” So, this story about Jacob wrestling does nudge me to cling to God in prayer and to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Also, in the book of Hosea, this story is touched on. In Hosea 12:4, it says that “[Jacob] struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him.” This illustrates that Jacob truly poured his heart out to God that evening. When we meet with God, do we pour our hearts out to Him? Or do we rush through this precious time so that we can get on with our day? Even though Jacob had important matters to tend to that day, he wasn’t eager to let God go. Do we cling to the Lord this tightly?

Another aspect that grabs my attention is the broken hip. It is believed that Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Of course, this not something we would ask for. But it still intrigues me, nonetheless. Every single day, Jacob could not forget this encounter with God. He had a tangible, constant reminder. I think this pulls at me because much of our faith is not tangible. That is why it is called faith. According to Oxford, faith can be defined as, “Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” This goes hand in hand with what I mentioned about prayer. Sometimes things will not go the way we like. Sometimes the unexpected with smack us in the face. When we do not see tangible results of our prayers or our efforts, or when life throws us a curve ball, the enemy will sneak in and plant seeds of doubt. That is why we must stand strong against the enemy’s schemes. We must remind ourselves who our God is. We must remind ourselves of His promises found in the Bible. We must remind ourselves that God is in control, no matter what.

Another viewpoint regarding Jacob’s hip that speaks to me has to do with the breaking in general. Sometimes God has to break us down to get us to a point where we finally depend on Him. All of Jacob’s life he struggled to make things work out the way he wanted, and he struggled in his own strength. I believe this was a turning point in Jacob’s life to finally lean on God’s strength. What does it take for us to finally lean on God? In the words of Tony Evans, “Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover He is the Rock at the bottom.” And as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In case you were wondering what happened with Jacob and his brother, Esau – they did reunite on good terms. Did the praying, wrestling, and blessing from this encounter help? Perhaps they did. After all, Esau was headed towards Jacob with four hundred men, which could mean that he originally meant to harm Jacob. Overall, while this encounter did leave Jacob with a limp, he walked away with a better relationship with God and a renewed relationship with his brother. And there are deeper meanings with his new name, as his descendants would form the tribes of Israel.

And what can we take away from this story? This story nudges us to pursue a deeper prayer life. It reminds us to stand strong against the enemy and to hold tightly to our faith. And this story also helps us to turn to the Lord and to full rely on Him and His strength. May we walk with a strong faith all of our days, as we remember we have our Almighty God by our side.

Photo by Flo Maderebner on

© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

13 Comments on “The Wrestling Match

  1. Really love this post. Clinging tightly to God in prayer, the tangible reminder for Jacob. Growth in His dependence on God.
    I like that saying by Tony Evans- sometimes God allows us to hit rock bottom so that we realise that He is the rock at the bottom.
    Very encouraging and wonderful takeaways from this passage in scripture.
    May we cling tightly to Him, pour our hearts out in prayer and depend on Him in all that we do.
    Awesome post Bridget
    Blessings my friend 🤗💙

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Manu! So glad you enjoyed the post! This story intrigues me so much. I love how Jacob had this personal moment with the Lord. We too can meet with God every day through prayer, and in a very personal way. Blessings to you too, dear friend!! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This makes me want to do a better job with my prayer life!! I do know how important prayer is…I pray daily but I don’t ‘always’ deeply commit to it! Like I’m easily distracted 🤦‍♀️I’m encouraged to do better after reading this post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am so glad this post encouraged you. I know exactly what you mean though. I feel my prayer life could use an overhaul. And I have been thinking about possibly writing some posts on prayer in the future. One beautiful thing about working on our prayers is that we can start anytime and anywhere. So I hope and pray that we can improve in this area, as we draw closer to the Lord! ✝️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really love your thoughts on this story! And I love what you said about the break. I never thought of it that way before but it makes perfect sense!! To this day I still catch myself leaning on my own understanding instead of turning to God. Sometimes I feel like I can just do it myself! However, it’s God that makes all things possible and I really need to remember that during my struggles.
    Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Michelle! I am glad you found the post to be inspiring. I know what you mean. Leaning on our own understanding is a difficult habit to break. We have to be intentional about seeking God and His wisdom. This is an area where I need to improve too. I pray we both can learn to lean on the Lord! 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So good Bridget. This quote: “Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them.” reminds me of Hebrews 11:39.

    “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,”

    Our prayers and our faith really can out live us. We don’t always get to see what they accomplish. I’m not very patient so this is very hard for me. But God is always faithfully working and wrestling. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tina, I have to tell you, your comment encouraged me so much! As you know, not having children is something that I struggle with. I recently had a low moment, worried about my future. I knew I had to get my act together and give myself a pep talk. But, I still had feelings of regret and worry. Your comment hit home and helped me to see that even if I cannot pass on my faith to my children, I still can pass it on to others. I hope this made sense! Thank you so much for your comment! And thank you for sharing that Bible verse. I am going to hold onto it! And I am you enjoyed the post and got some encouragement out of it too. Not seeing what our prayers and faith accomplishes has been difficult for me too. Especially recently. And that is one reason why I began studying prayer more deeply recently and will probably write on it as well. It brings a lot of joy to know how much God really is working, even when we can’t see it. ❤️


  5. This post is so enlightening. Lots of wisdom nuggets to take home.

    A call to pursue a deeper prayer life, so many things happen in prayer we have no idea about.

    Thanks for sharing Bridget. Loved it❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: The Wrestling Match – Reaching entrepreneurs ambitions

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