The Bible study I am currently doing is called Disciple’s Prayer Life, by T.W. Hunt and Catherine Walker. The purpose of the study is to guide the study-er into a deeper relationship with God through an enhanced prayer life. It’s turning out to be exactly what I need at this point in my life.
Today’s lesson in that study talked about having a prayer identity before God. Every character who had a relationship with God in the Bible had a particular identity in relation to Him, just as God had a special identity to each one of them. Here are some examples:
- Enoch. He walked with God, and God was his companion. “21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:21-24)
- Abraham. To him, God was trustworthy, and would do what He said He would do. “1After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ 2But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ 3And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’ 4Then the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ 5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ 6Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:1-6)
- Jacob. God was, to him, the one who gave blessing, and he struggled with God to get His blessing. “22That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ 27The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. 28Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.’ 29Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there.” (Genesis 32:22-29)
These are just a couple of the countless number of examples in the Bible of people who had distinct identities in their relationships with God. This list could include Moses, David, Peter, Paul, and of course, Jesus, among many, many more. Each person had specific circumstances in their lives that caused them to relate to God in a particular way. And those circumstances also caused them to seek God in different ways – as a friend, as the One who gives blessing, as the Judge of the world, as their deliverer, as their master and Lord, and as their Father. We, too, can relate to God in our own particular way, based on our own personalities and circumstances.
I think my own prayer identity at this time would be most like that of Jacob when he wrestled with God. He clung to God and refused to let go until He blessed him. This is kind of how I feel right now – like I am clinging to God. My wife and I have been looking at our financial future, and at times we have doubts about how things are going to go. In the near future, we need to find another home to live in (our current home’s lease is up in 3 months). Homes around where we live are expensive, even to rent, so we are looking for a good deal and one we can afford. We have another baby on the way, and we are making payments to the hospital already in preparation for that. I just had to start paying back a student loan. These are just a few of the things that have caused us to worry lately. I have considered getting a second job, and my wife has considered getting a part-time job in the evenings. But both of these options seem wrong for us right now. The whole purpose of being a one-income family is so that we have more time together as a family, not less. We felt that it was God’s will for us that my wife stay home with our children, and we have stuck to that plan regardless of the circumstances or what people might have thought. But with that comes financial difficulties, and with financial difficulties comes doubt about a whole lot of different things.
So right now, I think my prayer identity is most like that of Jacob, as I cling to God and don’t let go until He blesses me. Jacob knew that God had promised certain blessings – it’s not like Jacob just wanted selfish blessing of being rich or famous or anything like that. He wanted nothing more than God had already promised his father and grandfather (Isaac and Abraham), and nothing more than what God had promised him to his face. God told him “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you” (Genesis 31:3). Jacob was scared that his brother Esau, whom he had cheated out of a birthright and their father’s blessing, would want to kill him. But he also knew that God had made promises, and he believe God would keep them. So he clung to Him until He blessed him, and as we read earlier, God did. I, too, am holding on to promises that God has made. It might sound like we want to be rich, but that isn’t the case. The promise my wife and I are holding on to is Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things (food, clothes, daily needs) will be given to you as well.” We are clinging to God, and not letting go until we know that He has fulfilled this promise, of providing our daily needs. Perhaps this is a selfish prayer identity for me, but for my particular circumstances, I see God as my great Provider. He watches over me, and I will not go without. And for those times of doubt, He comforts me by showing me truths like this from His word. So I am blessed either way.