Praying with Sweat

I recently found a frustrated 11-year-old hiding behind a tree in our front yard. It was one of those times when willful protest regarding homework seemed wise to our youngest son, Aidan. That didn’t go over well with me, so I went out searching and found an angry face peering from behind the big oak. A pouty lip and angry eyes seemed to say, “I’m not doing anything,” yet there was the hint of a smile as he ducked behind the tree again.

From tree to tree he ran when I called him in. “I’m not doing it, I’m not doing it,” he yelled. I turned back into the garage as it began to rain…hard… and soon the outside frustration was brought inside.

The tactics of avoidance are different inside; running away doesn’t work nearly so well. I held his arm to focus attention, and he angrily twisted and fought me off. He was clearly upset, but there was that smile again. He flipped between resisting and enjoying the struggle in my arms for a good ten minutes. It wasn’t playful, but it wasn’t all-out aggression, either.

I kept saying to him, “I’m strong and I won’t let go of you. You don’t know how much I love you. As much as you struggle, I’ll never let go. I’m very strong, I can outlast you. I’ll never stop loving you.” I kept repeating what was true.

He fought me hard, sometimes with frustration, sometimes with laughs, while straining and pulling with all his might. When I had him all wrapped up in my arms I’d say, “What are you learning?”

The more he struggled, the more I’d say it. He didn’t want to respond, but I was unrelenting.

“You’re strong”, he finally barked out.

“Yes I am”, I said, “I’m way stronger than you know…” He’d twist all the more to break my hold. “My love for you is strong…stronger than you know.” I’d say, over and over.

His energy was spent, but I held tight, I wanted real strength to be felt. When I finally let loose, the spirit of things changed in the house. There was still resistance, but more willingness, too.

He needed to fight, and he needed to be resisted, but resisted with love…. love that wouldn’t let go.

The next morning in the 8-10 am prayer meeting at Cincinnati House of Prayer, an unexpected surge of energy and strength came upon everyone in the prayer room. The atmosphere was supercharged. We all felt it in different ways, and pressed in hard. We were seriously “wrestling” in the place of prayer for the city, the church, and the region. We were gripped for over an hour. We knew that we were touching something powerful.

Breathing heavy and even wiping my brow, it dawned on me how familiar this morning’s prayer meeting felt like the wrestling of the evening before. There was real effort and purpose in it; something was happening.

Just then I heard the Lord speak to me, “What are you learning?” I began to smile, feeling the connection.

“You’re strong!” I said on the inside.

I heard in return, “More than you know, the greatest always wins.”

1 Cor. 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Aidan had acquiesced the previous evening, but I’m sure we’ll wrestle again, perhaps soon. But love is strong. It never gives up. It never fails.

And so it is with prayer. “When the Son of man returns, will He find this kind of faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) I know He will; the question is whether He’ll find it in me?

I see I have some “strength” training to do. Wrestling in Love, at home or for the city still finds me weak. Fortunately, Cincinnati has a “prayer fitness center” called the Cincinnati House of Prayer. Strength training is done daily. Whew! I’m not as fit as I plan to be. See you in the gym.

Rusty Geverdt is the Executive Director for Cincinnati House of Prayer. He and his family are full-time intercessory missionaries. You can visit their website at or request him as a friend on Facebook.

Photo by Shelley Paulson


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