August 2: Wrestling with God — Family faith formation at home



Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Genesis 32:22-31

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

For the second reading, assign one person to be the narrator, another Jacob and a third the representative of God. Then read the story with each person reading their part.

 Connecting through story

Watch this clip from the movie “Simon Birch.”

  • With what was the minister wrestling?
  • With what was Simon wrestling?
  • Who do you think is Jacob in this film clip and why?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue

  • With whom (and why) do you think Jacob was struggling? Himself? God? An angel?
  • Why do you think Jacob wrestled?
  • What did Jacob want from the one with whom he wrestled? What did his wrestling partner want? Why do you think each made their particular demand?
  • What kind of blessing do you think Jacob wanted? What do you think he received?
  • What do you think was the blessing Jacob received?
  • How was Jacob changed after this encounter?
  • Sometimes wrestling is not just physical, sometimes it is internal with a problem or a relationship or a question you don’t understand. When and with what have you wrestled? Or with what are you wrestling now? What did/do you want or what were/are you hoping to receive?
  • What was/might be the result of your wrestling?
  • Where was God in the midst of that wrestling?
  • In what ways are we changed after encountering God?


Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion

  • This story is intentionally vague on many details (e.g., the name and identity of the wrestling partner, the exact blessing, etc.), which provides a great deal of possibilities when interpreting the text.
  • Jacob sent his family across the river, thus giving him the solitude he needed for the upcoming struggle.
  • Jacob was determined to receive a blessing and would not let go until it was given.
  • As the sun rises on a new day, Jacob believes he has seen the face of God and has been blessed.
  • God, and God’s ways, cannot be contained by human logic. There will be mysteries in some matters of faith that defy simple answers.
  • Wrestling with God is a natural part of the life of faith.
  • God is always present and, as we learned last week in the Romans 8 passage, nothing – not even wrestling and demanding a blessing – can separate us from the love of God.

In the image section of the search engine of your choice, or using this link, enter “Jacob wrestling with the angel.” Carefully study the multitude of images that capture this passage. Invite each person to choose an image with which they connect and describe why.


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.