Devalued Blessings

​Do you realize that prayer is the most undervalued resource in our lives, in our families, and in our churches? The Bible teaches us that all the blessings God wants to bestow on us, he does through prayer.  In fact, prayer is the conduit through which power comes into your family; it's the way you claim the promises and blessings of God.

I don't know about you, but I have a brother. Since my brother is younger than me, I used to pick on him incessantly.  But I guarantee if anyone else ever picked on him, then I would defend him to the death.  So naturally one of my favorite Bible stories is the story of Jacob and Esau. 

Jacob as you know cheated his older brother out of the brother's inheritance. In those days, the oldest son received what was called the birthright, which basically meant that he got two-thirds of the family inheritance, while the rest of the male siblings split one-thirds, and he got the special blessing from his father.  Therefore, Esau was destined to have the best part of the inheritance, but as the story goes, Esau arrived home one day and he was hungry.  So he went to Jacob, who was cooking some stew, and asked for a bowl.  Jacob, being the deceiver that he was, asked Esau to sell his birthright for the bowl of stew.  Since Esau thought he was starving to death and saw his birthright as worthless at that point, he made the trade.

A few years later, when Isaac was about to die, he called Esau in and told him to fix him a fine meal and then Esau would receive the special blessing from his father.  But Jacob's and Esau's mother overheard that conversation, and because Jacob was her favorite, she helped Jacob to disguise himself as Esau by putting goatskins on his arms and neck and fixed up a special meal for Isaac while Esau was out hunting game.  Then Isaac gave the special blessing to Jacob, and Esau was left with nothing.  Jacob and his mother were afraid Esau would kill Jacob after Isaac's death, so Jacob fled to another country and built up his wealth there.

Several years later, Jacob decided to return home and on his journey to bring all of his wealth home with him, he received word that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 fighting men. I don't know about you, but if I'm going after somebody with 400 fighting men, I think I'm going to fight.  So Jacob was afraid and that brings us to our passage in Genesis 32.  The passage describes for us and encounter between Jacob and a mysterious stranger.  Jacob later in scripture says this strange was actually God: God was wrestling with Jacob. 

Many theologians believe that this wrestling is an example of how we should approach God in prayer.  From Chapter 32, we see Jacob and God wrestled until morning when God touched Jacob on his hip socket to dislocate his hip and end the struggle.  Jacob limped for the rest of his life from that encounter, and we can find some interesting things in this story about prayer.

First, the blessings of God are released into our lives through our prayer. Jacob wrestled with the stranger in order to received his blessing.  Jacob even said, I'm not letting you go until you bless me.  He was struggling to receive God's blessing.   Do you realize that in scripture there more than 3000 promises that God has given us?  God expects us to claim those promises. When we don't, it's like the  more than $5.8 billion in gift cards that go unclaimed every year.  The same thing happens to us when the promises of the scripture go unclaimed because we do not approach God in prayer to claim them.

Second, sometimes blessings are received through persistent prayer.  That persistent prayer, our constantly struggling, shows our commitment to what we are asking of God.  God wants us to demonstrate just how important he is in the way that we live our lives and in the way we pray. God wants us to press through with the prayer in life's lowest points.  God uses this tactic of causing us to continue in persistent prayer because he wants us to demonstrate that we trust him to fulfill the prayer. 

Third, we can see in the scripture that we don't obtain the best things in life by contriving on our own. Jacob was known as a deceiver and was always trying to manipulate things to get the blessings he could get.  But to receive God's blessing sometimes means that we lose to God; we surrender.  Jacob lost the ability to walk very well because he struggled with God.  God teaches us throughout our lives that we must surrender to him before we receive the blessings that he has to give to us.  James 4:2 says "You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. " God wants us to ask; he wants us to come to him.

Finally, we see that blessing and prayer happen in a relationship.  It's not the things that we are praying for that we need; that's not the blessings in our life that are the most important.  The most important thing we receive is a relationship with God.  We have to come to the point that in our relationship with God, we understand that he being with us in enough.  That relationship rather than the thing we are praying for is really what we should be going after. We need to cling to that relationship.   Jeremiah 29:13, "if you search for me with all your heart, you will find me." That is the greatest blessing, and we can only find that through persistent prayer
In Him,
Pastor Boyd

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