Renewal of the Heart: Open to Change

*Audio below…

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭32:22-28‬ ‭NIV‬

“That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacobʼs hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.””

Prayer is a funny thing.  We’re told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18) and we’re told to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46.10) and that if we be still, the Lord will fight our battles (Exodus 14.14).  But because our relationship with God is just that, a relationship, we understand that there are times of activity and times of passivity.  We engage God through our participation in the Divine-human relationship.  We exercise faith and trust God.  We do just what Jacob did in our scripture above, we strive with God and others and if we are victorious, if we hold on and hold out, we will be blessed.  We know this because there is no greater blessing than to be WITH God and for God to be WITH us.  So prayer is being WITH God, actively.  

But prayer is also passive.  Through our relationship, we also let God lead.  We trust His work, His strength, and especially His forgiveness toward us.  As the Israelites knew quite well, God is the hero, the actor, the great protagonist in both the material and spiritual struggle.  And so pray is also a passive participation with God, too.

The graphic, “Open to Change,” means that when we pray, we are inviting God into the conversation of our soul; and with such an invitation comes the transforming grace of God.  Praying is being open to God changing us, in a thousand ways.  Prayer is conversation as much as it is a living, on-going communion with God.  That is much deeper, much more intimate than a simple conversation.  (As a side note, the picture of the door and knob is one of my all-time favorite photos I’ve every taken.  The door was on a seed shed belonging to the parsonage of my in-laws, the Rev. and Mrs. Jim Bocian, when they served the Lincolnton UMC church.  The door was ancient and inviting and I studied it quite a bit before I took the picture several years ago.) 

In the audio link above, we experimented with a panel on Sunday morning, comprised of Mr. Ben Husack and Mr. Anil Malhotra.  The three of us had dinner with our wonderful wives the night before and decided over dinner we would continue our conversation on stage in front of the congregation.  We talked about a few things (as you will hear) but we looked at three important quotes that I’ll include below for you to contemplate for yourself.  Each was “grabbed” from the Facebook feed of, a resourcing ministry of talented Christian leaders throughout the years.  They posted 3 wonderful quotes online.  I hope they bless you as much as they have blessed me.


  1. Hi Whit and Ashley,

    Thanks for keeping me on your mailings.

    – The audio is a great idea. Great to hear you again.

    – Also like the way you relate prayer and Jacob’s story in Genesis to today and our forthcoming election.


    1. George! Much love to you and yours from The Martins here in Smyrna! We are praying for you today and hope that you are well. Thank you for the encouragement. I believe that many Christians have fallen for the devil’s trap of focusing on worldly cares and concerns through this election year (and more than in years past). But on the other hand I do believe that our awareness and our votes are important and matter, so I pray that no one mishears me or my intentions. Regardless, we must pray! Bless you, my brother! —Whit

  2. Whit,

    Love this, Thanks for sharing it.

    If you should find yourself in need of a “between the two ferns” with me as your guest, I think that could be lots of fun and insightful.

    – Paul

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