After Jacob’s prayer for protection from his brother Esau, he carefully settled his camp so that his wives and children would be safe should Esau come upon them in the night. Then he was alone. With God.
“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. And when he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.’ But he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him and said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.'” ~Genesis 32:24-30
Jacob was scared and alone. In the darkness of that night, he grappled with a man, not wanting to lose hold of him. It seems that he knew it was God he was wrestling with, for when asked to let go, Jacob asked Him for a blessing.
In Hosea 12:4 we are told, “Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought His favor.” Jacob not only physically grappled with God, but he cried, CLUNG to Him and PRAYED.
Sometimes we are so alone, so overwhelmed by the darkness of this life. Our souls long to cry out to God. We need to put ourselves in a place where we are alone with God and can cling to Him in prayer.
God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, in Hebrew “Yisra’El”, meaning “God prevails”. This would be the name of a great nation, God’s chosen people.
Jacob recognized that it was indeed a special blessing he had been given, for he had “seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Oh, I can hardly wait to see God face to face one day! In the meantime, I need to spend more time alone with Him, clinging to Him in prayer.