A friend of mine, two years ahead of me, left for the marines. When he had time to come back, he came and visited us and told us the best thing that helped him get ready for basic training for the marines was wrestling practice.
No matter how hard we practiced, when it came time for the match, it was only a few seconds in before we felt like our lungs were going to explode inside our chests. The longest a match goes in high school was three 2-minute rounds.
So imagine what it must have been like for Jacob. He wasn't going to wrestle this man for a measly six minutes (and as we know, this man is actually God), but Jacob wrestled with God all night.
Jacob, the one who was known as "one grabbing at someone's heel" now was being grabbed by God. Just before dawn, the man needed to be on his way, so he did something someone might consider cheating: He pulled Jacob's hip out of socket.
Then, something happened. Jacob didn't let go; he held on all the more. This man who, at the very least was 70 years old, who had his hip pulled out of joint, and who didn't let go of the man, but held on all the more. The man called out: "Let me go, for the day is about to break!" But Jacob said, "I won't let go until you bless me!"
So Jacob asked his name. Let me paraphrase maybe what was said, "Person who is grabbing and grappling with me, what is your name?""My name is someone who grabs."
With that God said to Jacob, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled, Grappled, with God and men, and you have prevailed."
When it was Jacob's turn to ask names, the man said, "Why is that you ask about my name?" Then Jacob gets blessed, and realizes who has been wrestling with him, with whom he has been grappling all night. Jacob names the place where he grappled with God Peniel, "For I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved."
He entered the night unsure about what was going to happen in the morning with his brother. He wrestled, grappled with God the whole night, and knew everything was going to be alright because God came and met with him. It wasn't that God just came and met with him but that Jacob grappled with God until his request was heard, until he got what he needed from God that night.
My question for you is: Do you know what it is like to grapple with God? Sure we have our prayer requests, and we go before God for a couple of minutes a day. We say our little chants, and we go about our ways. We keep praying those prayers, and sometimes we wonder why God isn't listening and doing anything. But have you grappled with God?
You see, grappling with God is saying, "I am not going to let go until I receive the answer I need or that I am looking for from God." Did you know Jesus, God's one and only Son, grappled with God?