Time to change your Spiritual Atmosphere!
“24So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25When 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. 26Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. 28Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." 29Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.” Genesis 32:24-29
Who wouldn’t want to be blessed? Who wouldn’t want to be referred to as ‘blessed one’ or a successful person? This is what all of us we aspire to be as well as strive to achieve in life. I thank God because of where He has brought us from – He has been Ebenezer to us. Personally I am a testimony of what God can do to once a ruined life to a testimony! If given a chance, I know many of us have a story to tell about where God has taken us from. Nevertheless, there is a mark unto which we are aiming at. As Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This is the same attitude that we should have that it is in Christ that we find fulfillment of our lives and purpose as well.
I was in a prayer session and God instilled this in my heart and spirit and I got really inspired! It actually changed my perspective on how I have been praying and my persistence in prayer. The Spirit was asking, How hungry are we to see God move, to see God bless us, our family, our friends, our work colleagues, how much do we want to see God move? Are we willing to persevere and push through in prayer not letting go, not giving up until we see God move? This is the biggest challenge that we have as Christians in this generation. We are in the generation where we are used to instant things and thus even in our prayers, search and quest for God; we want things to happen instantly. We forget that God does not operate as a human being. He has his plan and his plan is his will for you and me and it has to come to pass as He has ordained it. I find it so easy at times to start praying for something, one week later I don’t see any results, and sometimes I don’t particularly feel any different about a situation and so – I forget about it and move on to something else.
When we get to pray, you will realize that Jesus stressed so much on persistence. In the previous devotion that I sent (Persistence in prayer – Click here to read), we realized that Elijah prayed fervently and with persistence till God answered him with a sign (1 Kings 18:41-46). This is the same way God expects us to pray. Jesus gave the parable of the Persistent window in Luke 18:1-4. Unfortunately, many of us pray and when we see that the answer is delaying to come, we quit. I am encouraged as well as challenged by this window that I should be persistent to an extent of being a nagging person till I get what I want. That’s how we need to push through; we need to wrestle with the situation fight and travail through it in prayer, trusting and believing God not giving up until He pours out His blessing.
In this particular scripture, Genesis 32:24-29, we see Jacob sends his family and his possessions ahead of him so that he could be left alone and seek God in preparation to meet his brother Esau. It is here that he wrestled with God and has his name changed. This was the turning point of his life. I believe Jacob was tired of running and hiding himself away from his brother Esau and thus he wanted God to deal with him first before he met him. We need to reach that point in life where we tell the enemy that we are tired of playing hide and seek games with him and face him off. For how long shall we continue soothing and pleading with some situations in our lives that draw us back whenever we are advancing? I know that Jacob realized that if he didn’t face his brother then, they would forever live chasing each other and thus none of them would live in peace because of the fear of the other especially Jacob.
What is that that you are battling with in your mind, life, heart name it that is drawing you back? Is it your past life that is haunting you? Paul says that it doesn’t matter how your past is, all you need to do is forget it (the past) and press on to the mark of perfection (Philippians 3:13-14). No one is perfect, but Christ perfects us. Is it a habit that you are trying to leave and you are unable to? Be encouraged. Paul struggled with the same and he gives us a solution as well. This is what he says in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Paul couldn’t understand why this was happening, yet he said, since it was the law of sin which was exercising its authority over him, this was what he did to tame the same. He said… “…I beat my body and make it my slave” 1 Corinthians 9:27. When we learn to submit our bodies to the will and purpose of the Lord, the rest become a walk over since the Holy Spirit will be in control.
Many times, we do not tarry in the presence of the Lord so that He can deal with us. We are so much in a hurry to ask him of what we need and leave before even He speaks to us. This is what Jacob realized and he chose to tarry behind with God. When we realize who we are and what we are struggling with, we will find it easy to wait on the Lord so that He can sort us out. Do you know yourself and what you are struggling with? Are you ready to allow God to deal with it? Then tarry in his presence and He will do so. Jabez is another person who realized whom he was and what was bringing him down. The bible tells us in 1 Chronicles 4:9-40 “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested.” If God could honour the prayer of Jabez, so shall He honour yours if you pray unto him with sincerity.
When the angel told Jacob to let him go, Jacob told him "I will not let you go unless you bless me." In other words, Jacob had realized that he was not wrestling with a mortal man like him, but it was someone who held his destiny. There are things that you will go through in your life, seasons and times will come but if you are not sensitive in the spirit to discern which season you are and what it holds for you, you will be bypassed by your blessing. (Click here to read more about the Spiritual Seasons of a Christian). The name that Jabez was given didn’t guarantee him any blessings or a prosperous and a peaceful life, but he chose to change what was meant to happen; he chose to change the Spiritual atmosphere that was decreed upon his life. Jacob did the same. His name meant a deceiver and a liar, but when he declined to let go the angel, his name was changed. Do you know which spiritual atmosphere that has been pronounced and declared upon your life?
It is so easy to sit back, have pity about ourselves and think there is absolutely no way we deserve any blessing from God! We need to see ourselves as God sees us we are HIS children and like any father - He wants to give us so much, but if we don’t even ask then we are going to miss out on so much. When you care enough to wrestle with God like Jacob, when you care enough for justice that you persist like the widow, when you Know like Paul that the new revelation of God’s presence through Jesus is just one generation short of extinction; then you will be filled with the power of perseverance to engage in prayer, tarrying in his presence and face whatever life brings your way. The deepest form of prayer is when it engages you and the life you live with God. That way we can understand that we’re not praying to a God “out there” but God in the midst of life. When we become engaged with God, God becomes part of who I am individually and corporately, where I know that I need him the most.
The first thought we might have from Jacob’s wrestling with God and the widow pestering the judge is that they were trying to change God’s mind. The primary effect of prayer as an engagement with God and life is not a change in God, but a change in us. God recognizes our needs even before we do. It’s not God who needs to change, it is up to us to align ourselves with God’s unconditional love, his justice and his compassion. Our prayer life needs to have persistence, not because God is deaf but because opening our hearts to God and staying engaged, is not an easy matter. All this may seem pretty ordinary and superficial, until we remind ourselves that practice and persistence are absolutely essential to any lasting and legitimate engagement in life, the kind that can change us if we recognize them as encounters with God. The ministry of perseverance and persistence goes on. Where is Jacob who wrestled with God now? Where can you find the persistent widow today? I pray that God will find them in the hearts and minds of people like you and me in such a generation!!