Wrestling Status: Enabled

As I was reading this morning, I came across an interesting passage that I initially brushed over until my soul went, “Wait, wait, that was interesting; go back and see what that means, won’t you?”

It’s a section from The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, dated August 23, recalling the events of the day, and his inability to find himself in an intense enough state of mind for truly sweet and devoted prayer. But then he says:

In the evening, God was pleased to draw near my soul, though very sinful and unworthy; was enabled to wrestle with God, and to persevere in my requests for grace.

He goes on to speak of what he wrestled with God over; for souls to come to him, for God to be made known in the world, for his truth to be proclaimed, and that God would be glorified.

It was a lovely passage, but I was left wondering why in the world he would need to feel that he had to wrestle with God over those things. Aren’t those all things that God wants? Aren’t the things that we wrestle over with God the things that we want out of life? Our desires and futures and requests that we make; wouldn’t those things require the wrestling more than things that God is already working towards?

But I suppose if you’re going to ask that question in the first place, why should we wrestle with him in prayer at all? If you think you needn’t wrestle with God about those higher things, then perhaps it follows that we should just leave all the other things as well. Surely he knows best anyways; we might as well not ask for those things we want because if he wants to give them to us, we will surely receive them.

And then that negates the entire necessity of prayer. And it makes us lazy Christians.

I must assume that most Christians do not wrestle with God in prayer, because if they did, the results would be plain to see; they would be astounding. Prayer for most is a chore — something that must be done at least once a day at a certain time to fill an obligation. We’ll hit it three times a day, at mealtimes, in a very blase sort of manner. We will have prayer meetings, but most of the words are spoken for the benefit of those listening, not the One who answers. We ask once, maybe twice, and assume the answer is no because there is no answer yet.

The majority of prayer is incredibly lukewarm. If we could see and hear the way that men like David and Samuel and John and Paul prayed, we’d probably be incredibly taken aback by the sheer passion. If you read the Psalms — an excellent guide to prayer — they are not filled with polite requests and formalities. Please help so and so’s back feel better. Johnny needs a job, but if that isn’t your will, we know that your will is best (we love to leave little back doors to our prayers, because rather than believing they will be answered, we are more often preparing for them to not be.).

As a matter of fact, the Psalms can sound demanding. Violent. Impasioned and thirsty and starving for answers. They are real! They are the cries that come from the very heart, after we have stripped back the layers of hesitation and fear masquerading as humility.

Wrestling is intimate.

It is close contact; close enough to feel the other’s breath and heartbeat. A closeness that has the power to hurt or to embrace. Samuel Chadwick said that there is importunity in prayer; it is supposed to seem almost rude and invasive and jealous and vicious. Like the words of Jacob wrestling with God, “I will not let you go until you bless me!” it is impudent and strong. It refuses to back down.

God listens to all our prayers. Even our pitiful attempts at asking for what we want without attempting to fight for what we want. The difference between that prayer and the prayer of the wrestling spirit is that God is invited into the prayer. Too many prayers are delivered as if God was an answerig machine, “Leave a message after the beep, and I’ll get back to you,” rather than as a conversation. Or a wrestling match, if you will.

We may say too soon, “Thy will be done,” and too ready an acceptance of a situation as His will often means feebleness or sloth. It may be his will that we surmount His will. It may be His higher will that we resist His lower… Let us submit when we must, but let us keep submission in reserve rather than in action, as a ground tone rather than the sole effort. Prayer with us has largely ceased to be wrestling. — The Soul of Prayer, P.T. Forsythe

When Brainerd spoke of finally being enabled to pray that day (to wrestle, not merely speak), it was only when God entered into conversation with his soul. It was then that he was able to influence God to answer his requests — which were all if you will remember, incredibly good things that you can imagine God honoring. But God still wanted him to wrestle together over that. He wanted him to feel passionately about these things, as we should. He wants to feel the strength of our resolve that our prayers will be answered.. He has offered us, again and again, the ability to come to him boldly, as sons and daughters, not just as servants.

If we really want something, we show it by fighting for it. Wrestling with God is the way that we show to him we are worthy of what we want, “According to your faith be it unto you.” To prove that we are willing to wrestle with him over this, and not bow down submissively every time there is only silence, but until our prayers are answered or there is such a decisive “No,” as to be incapable of being misunderstood.

To wrestle with God takes time. Jacob wrestled until the sun came up, and only because it was then that God wounded him, and he couldn’t go on. But he got his request. How many of us can say that we are capable of this kind of prayer? How many of us are willing to risk that vulnerability and honesty and raw passion and bravery before God?

We cannot know until we go to him, and with faith ask him to enable our wrestling souls. There is only one way we can know if have the faith that takes, and that is to begin now.

And I’m pretty sure that’s why they call it “being a prayer warrior”…


#discombobulatedrubbish #prayer #wrestling #christian

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