Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” “I will not let you go,” Jacob replied, “unless you bless me.” Then Jacob asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you ask my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Genesis 32:26,29
Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging. His limb was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle, he wound his arms around the neck of his mysterious antagonist and hung all his helpless weight upon him, until at last he conquered.
We will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will and throw our arms about our Father’s neck in clinging faith. What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessing by force from God? It is never the violence of wilfulness that prevails with God. It is the might of clinging faith, that gets the blessing and the victories. It is not when we press and urge our own will, but when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but Thine.” We are strong with God only in the degree that self is conquered and is dead. Not by wrestling, but by clinging can we get the blessing. (Streams in the Desert)
Sin must be confronted and weakness confessed for our prayers to ring true. Apart from relentless transparency, praying becomes a religiously correct attempt to manipulate Almighty God, the very thought of which is repugnant, yet frequently repeated. The goal for every disciple is not self-efficacy but self-effacement. He must increase, and we must decrease. This is not vain effort to convince the Father of humility in order to gain something from Him; surrender is setting aside our own agenda in preference to God’s revealed and yet-to-be unveiled will at any given moment. The great cost of following Jesus is laying aside self-preservation in deference to worshipping God with our whole heart.