I will not let you go unless you bless me.
This is Jacob’s prayer: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” It has to rank as one of the most unique prayers in the Bible, coming in one of the more bizarre episodes in the Bible.
This is the story: Jacob has lived his life relying upon himself. He has lived by scheming and manipulating. He has accumulated wealth, and now he is returning to his homeland with the prospect of meeting his brother, Esau. Esau, who had been wronged by Jacob, could wipe out Jacob and everything Jacob had. And Jacob is terrified. Desperate. Finally, the self-dependent and scheming Jacob recognizes his need for God.
On the night before Jacob meets Esau, a stranger assails Jacob in the darkness. They begin to wrestle; in fact, they wrestle through the night. Over time, it becomes clear to Jacob that this stranger is none other than God himself in human form.
And when God is about to leave, Jacob holds on for dear life. He won’t let go! Clinging to God, Jacob blurts out: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
What is it about this prayer? It sounds selfish, but God loved it and answered it. God blessed Jacob.
God loved this prayer because Jacob, a self-reliant schemer, is calling out to God in dependence: “Lord, I need you. Lord, I need your blessing. Lord, I need your grace. Without your blessing, there is no hope. Lord, I won’t let you go unless you bless me.”
Dependence. Desperateness. Trust.
For proud, self-reliant people like Jacob, like me, and perhaps like you, that’s a prayer God loves. At times, God will wrestle with us and perhaps even give us a limp, like he did Jacob, in order to show us how much we need him and teach us to call out: “Lord, we need you. I need you. I need your blessing, your rescue, your protection. Without you, I have no hope.”
That’s a prayer God loves.