In a sermon taking Genesis 32:26-29 as his text, Jonathan Edwards gives four reasons why God chooses to bestow His blessing on fervent, persistent prayer. I found these so refreshing and encouraging.
1. ‘Tis very suitable and becoming that before men have the blessing they should this way show their sense of their need of it and of the value of it. ‘Tis very suitable that before God bestows his blessing upon them, persons should be sensible they need it. And ‘tis by their importunity and earnest seeking of it – their not listening God go except he bestows it – that they show their sense of their need of it.
‘Tis very suitable that before God bestows his blessing persons should be sensible of the great value of the blessing and the advantage it will be to them. They show also a sense of this by the not letting God go except he bestows it.
2. God’s seeming to deny persons the blessing for a while when they seek tends to lead persons to reflect on their unworthiness of the blessing. They have that seeming denial to put them upon thinking what they have done to provoke God to withhold a blessing from them. While Christ seemed to deny the woman of Canaan what she sought, she was put in mind of her unworthiness. Jesus said, ‘It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it to dogs” (Matt. 15:26). The leads them to seek in a more humble manner.
3. ‘Tis very suitable before God bestows the blessing upon a person that he should this way acknowledge him to be the author of the blessing. This earnestly seeking of it of God so as not to let him go ’til he bestows is a becoming acknowledgement that God is the fountain of blessing and that no other can bestow it but he.
4. The person by such seeking of the blessing is prepared for it. He is put into a suitable disposition to receive it, to entertain it joyfully and thankfully, and to make much of it when it is obtained and to give God the glory of it.