For the follower of Jesus, every circumstance in life is a God-ordained moment when God seeks to prevail over us so that we may prevail in prayer. This truth is beautifully illustrated in Genesis 32:24-32 where Jacob prevails in prayer with the angel of the Lord. Jacob had left home over two decades earlier after buying his brother Esau’s birthright and deceiving his father, Isaac, stealing the blessing that rightfully belonged to Esau. Now, over twenty years later, God had blessed him, and he was heading back home fearing the annihilation of his family by his brother Esau. In the this climactic moment of Jacob’s life, he spends the night wrestling with God. And it is here that the LORD takes Jacob back to his place of greatest failure in order to prevail over Jacob.
Incredibly, as the dawn is breaking and the angel of the Lord “saw that he had not prevailed against [Jacob], he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him” (Gen 32:25). The angel of the Lord then demands that Jacob let go of him, but Jacob would not let go until the angel of the Lord blessed him. At that moment, the angel of the Lord asks Jacob the same question his father, Isaac, asked twenty years earlier, “What is your name?” (Gen 27:18). Why would the angel of the Lord do that? He was taking Jacob back to the place of his greatest failure–his greatest sin–not to hurt Jacob, but to expose his hard heart.
As Wesley Duewel states in Mighty Prevailing Prayer, “God was doing a transforming work in [Jacob’s] nature. He was being brought to the end of himself, but this position made him bold in faith. A new Jacob prevails with God because God has prevailed over him.” The LORD prevailed over Jacob so that Jacob might prevail in prayer and gain the blessing to him, his entire family, and to you. For in Christ Jesus, the blessing and promises of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are all yours (Gal 3:29).
So what can we learn from this amazing event? No matter our circumstances, the LORD is seeking to prevail over you to expose your sin and take you to the the Cross of Jesus. That is the place He prevails over us. He will use our present circumstances to take us back to a place of failure to show us our need for brokenness and repentance. God spent over twenty years of Jacob’s life sovereignly setting up the circumstances for Jacob to come to the end of himself and see what a sinner he was in order to see the greatness of God’s grace. What circumstances are you now dealing with that God’s grace might prevail over you?
Jacob prevailed in prayer with the LORD because the LORD had prevailed over him. God calls us to prevail in prayer to gain answers to what is sought. God commands you and me to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). God invites us to a wrestling match. We have a Great High Priest, Jesus, who is prevailing in prayer right now at the right hand of the Father (Heb 7:25). For what is your Advocate before the Father praying and calling you to pray into reality on earth as it in heaven? Don’t quit praying! The Son of God has prevailed over you through His death and resurrection in order that you might daily prevail in prayer before the Throne of Grace! He reigns by intercession. So do we (Rom 5:2, 17).