Genesis 32:22-32: Save me from myself

“22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 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. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,  and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.” NIV

We’re going to spend a day or two in this pivotal section in Genesis. It records a major turning point in Jacob’s experience with God. Prayer changes people: both the one who prays, and the ones being prayed for. I believe it changed Esau. I think that is the inference. But even when others don’t change (or don’t appear to; or don’t change immediately) we who pray for them tend to be changed in a real encounter with God. Jacob was. There are two key references to prayer in this chapter. The first one is shorter (9-12), and then we come to this longer passage. Through prayer Esau’s heart was changed; but Jacob was also transformed.

‘Jacob was broken to be healed and weakened to be strengthened. When he surrendered, he won and became a ‘’prince with God.’’ His limp would be a constant reminder that God would be in control of his life. ‘’God fights against us with His left hand and for us with His right hand,’’ wrote John Calvin. When we let God have His way, it is the dawning of a new day (v.31).’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.38.

Prayer: Oh Lord, may I not merely ‘say prayers’, but meet with you deeply in the place of prayer, so that I am forever changed.