Should We Ever Wrestle with God?

In the movie The Princess Bride, the evil genius Vizzini repeatedly (and inappropriately) exclaims, “Inconceivable.” His partner Inigo Montoyo finally responds, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Like that criminal genius, Christians use religious jargon repeatedly and inappropriately. I often want to say, “I do not think it means what you think it means.

I struggle with the phrase, “wrestling with God.” arm_wrestlingChristians use it to describe an intentional long night of pleading with God for his help. The phrase refers to God wrestling with Jacob (Gen. 32:22-31), but we use it the wrong way; let’s “Stop saying that!”

I used to work in a ministry with a man who loved the phrase. If the finances were low, he’d demand an evening bout of wrestling with God. When members failed to follow his messages, he’d insist on an upper room experience of battling with God.

My friend used the phrase as though we needed to get God’s attention, as though we needed to place a shot across God’s bow. We’d argue with God, make our pitch, and try to persuade him of our plans. Maybe we’d fast.

It reminded me of the priests of Baal as they cut themselves on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). I wish I’d said to my friend, “I do not think it means what you think it means.

Our phrase may seem noble or heroic to us, but an African American preacher understood God better when he preached, “Your arm’s too short to box with God!”

My Journey into Learning How God Gives Direction

I used to be a partner and employee of a successful software company. Eight years ago I heard God tell me to leave it. But he didn’t tell me where to go.

I asked five friends for help. We met and prayed together monthly for a year. In the end we all agreed I should leave; and we had no idea where I should go.

So I left the company and prayed more earnestly for direction. In fact I pleaded.

I heard nothing. Silence.

Have you ever felt this same desperate desire for God’s direction, longing for a word?

Let me tell you what God did for me.