Prayer Focus: Africa

Bible Reading: Genesis 30-33


Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

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.”

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”  (Genesis 32:27-30)


Periodically, God steps into history and has encounters that change the flow of events through single individuals. Jacob had inherited the intense scrutiny of a God who had plans for redeeming humanity through his family line. God held his promise to Abraham in a faithfulness that endured in spite of the workings of generational sin. Of all the ways he could have revealed himself to Jacob, he chose to come in the form of a man he could speak to and wrestle with; a man who then blessed him, and gave him a new name.


I am grateful that God invites us to wrestle things out with Him. There is so much there in those few verses that I wish scripture had unpacked for us better. We will never know their conversation through the evening of grappling. Did he shift blame to everyone who’d swindled him, and use their actions to justify his own? Had God confronted him with his own sin? The bible doesn’t say. It only says that they wrestled through the night and that he overcame both God and humans.

Though it’s not in today’s reading, I mention it here in the application portion because this whole business about name changing is for you and me too: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.”  (Revelation 2:17)


Lord, help me have the courage to bring my sinfulness to you, to wrestle it out into the open where you can shape me, change me and mark me. I desire to overcome the world, to know my new name, to meet you face to face. Thank you for not giving up on us a human race, or on me.