Can wrestling be a form of prayer?

Ever get mad at God and tell him so? Ever have a really difficult conversation with the Almighty? Or are you one who stuffs your feelings and harbor resentment towards the Father? Navigating life's trials and heartaches can sometimes alienate us from God but I think that these things can bring us close to him if we bring our pain to him in prayer. Therese Borchard excerpts Ronald Rolheiser's book, “Forgotten Among the Lilies”, this way:
God wants to be wrestled with. As Rabbi Heschel points out, ever since the days when Abraham argued with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jacob wrestled with the angel, those close to God have also occasionally engaged in similar arguments.

The refusal to accept the harshness of God’s ways in the name of his love is an authentic form of prayer. Indeed the prophets and saints were not always in the habit of simply saying, “Thy will be done.”

They often fought, challenged, squirmed and begged as a way of saying “Thy will be changed!” I suspect that they did sometimes annul divine plans. God wants to be struggled with, especially if we have been living in his house for a while. Why? Why would he want this? How can wrestling be a form of prayer?

Wrestling can be a form of prayer precisely because it can be a form of love. People who live together in love for a long time must resolve many tensions. There is constant wrestling, much anger and occasional bitterness. But the struggling together, if persevered in, always leads to new depth in love.
I love that last sentence. In my own life prayer has turned resentment inside out as I have wrestled with God. I think that there is something sacred in this kind of transparent and gut-wrenching prayer. As we speak to God in frank terms we acknowledge his sovereignty and tell him that we want his understanding. And in a very real sense we often find a place where negative emotions and feelings are released into the hands of God as we wrestle with him.


  1. I liked that last sentence too. Thanks for providing the perspective

  2. I like this, and I agree. I think of Jacob who definitely wrestled.

    1. Thanks Ma. Maybe prayer is only of the wrestling type when one comes away changed like Jacob did? Not that I am wanting to limp any more than I do. :)


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