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Earlier this week I mentioned the inner struggle Christians have with facing helplessness. It isn’t a uniquely Christian problem – the world thrives after power. All of the political and social rhetoric which is blazing around us presently is all about who is in or will have – power.
This is the deafening echo of the Fall in the human soul.
Truthfully? – even for many Christians, our souls are more comforted by “our” people sitting in the seats of the Oval Office, Congress and the Supreme Court than in the God who rules over them all. We seem to take little or no comfort there. It is merely theoretical and doctrinal, but not practical.
Something is dreadfully wrong with that picture.
We wanted the power in the Garden to determine for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. And we have never let go of that rebellious impulse. We hate being under the authority or power of anyone or anything above – self. And, it is why so much pop Christianity goes the same way. Personal empowerment as a theme or sub-theme is threaded through everything.
Then we run into what at first might look like an obscure reference in our reading of Hosea 9-Joel 1:1, and some powerful light get sheds on a very important reality for Believers.
The nature of prevailing prayer, and what that looks like.
So much teaching on prayer today is about how we can have power in prayer. But that might not look like what we think.
I’m your host, Reid Ferguson.
If you blink, you’ll miss it. Hosea’s reference in 12:4 to an event in the life of Jacob back in Genesis 32.
There, when Jacob was preparing to face his brother Esau for the first time in decades, he was visited by an angel. The text says he wrestled all night with the heavenly messenger, who even left Jacob lame. A good picture of how when we truly encounter God, we can never walk the same way again.
But before leaving, the angel says to him: “you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” But what does that mean? How had Jacob striven with God and won? No doubt it is a picture of prevailing prayer; but in what way? Books have been written on it to try and tell us how we too can have power with God – how to get Him to do our bidding in prayer. But Hosea 12:4 tells us what that really looks like.
How did Jacob strive with the angel and prevail? “He wept, and sought his favor.” He won, by recognizing his weakness, and crying out for mercy.
What prevails to secure the blessing of God is humility before Him. All scheming, all self-reliance and independence brings judgment. Humility and brokenness melt the heart of God toward His people. And that is what prevailing prayer really looks like. Utter humility before God – crying out in our helplessness. Weeping over our sins, and pleading not for power – but for mercy.
Hosea 14 will go on to confirm that truth. For when the Prophet instructs Israel in how to repent so as to relieve God’s judgments and re-secure His blessings – his counsel is to pray for forgiveness, ask God to accept what little good they may have, swear to return to right living, renounce all political alliances to gain the help they desire, reject any thoughts of their own works being of use or relying upon them, and crying out for mercy.
That dear one, is prevailing prayer.
Humble renunciation of trust in anything but God alone – and a plea for undeserved mercy on our sins.
And in Christ – He answers in full.
God willing, we’ll be back Monday.