"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak." (Genesis 32:24).

Jacob is probably one of the clearest Biblical illustrations of a demanding spirit.  He insisted on having his father's blessing for himself and took advantage of his brother's  hunger, buying his birthright for a plate of stew.  Later, Jacob, went through a kind of conversion, making God his God and giving him a tenth, but deep in his heart there was still the spirit of demandingness.

It shows itself again at Paddan Aram, where he worked out a scheme to make himself rich at his father-in-law's expense (Genesis 30:40-43).  He was still Jacob, though he talked about himself in terms of honesty.  "My honesty will testify for me in the future." (Genesis 30:33); but it was nothing more than above-the-water-line honesty.  His mind was changed, not his heart.

Demandingness is insisting that our interest be served irrespective of others.  We demand that people treat us the way we believe they should.  We demand that people support us in time of trouble.  We demand that no one comes close to hurting us.  Wedged tightly in the recesses of our heart is this ugly splinter, which if not removed, will produce a poison that will infect every part of our life (Psalm 7:1-7).

Let there be no mistaking, if we are to pursue God wholeheartedly, then the spirit of demandingness , which resides in every human heart must be identified and removed.  So Jacob was pursued by the love of God, like the Hound of Heaven down the years, awaiting the hour when he would be ready to admit that he was beaten.  A man wrestled with him until Jacob's strength was diminished, at which point He asked him, "What is your name?" (Hosea 12:3-6).

Jacob, after a tremendous struggle, made a crucial confession.  "My name is Jacob -- the Supplanter" he sobbed.  The depths were uncovered, Jacob's heart was naked before God.  The real problem was identified.

If you have not reached this place in your spiritual experience, then I suggest you stop everything and tell God your name.  You might have to confess: "My name is Demandingness; I insist on having my own way in everything." . The saying of the old name is a confession, a catharsis.  When Jacob said his name, the angel said: "Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel -- a Striver with God" (Genesis 32:28).

Demandingness manifests itself when we insist that God answer our prayers in the way we think He should.  Our faith in God must be based on unconditional confidence in His character and sovereign purposes, rather than in the hope that He will relieve us of pain and suffering in the way that we think is best (Hebrews 11:1).

There is a world of difference between "praying in faith" and "demandingness".  When we "pray in faith" we have the assurance in our hearts that God wants to bring about a certain purpose for His own glory.  Demandingness insists on getting the answers that are in accord with its own desires rather than God's purposes.  It is an attempt to bring God in line with our will rather than bringing our will in line with His will.

Deep hurt is a most suitable environment in which to nourish a demanding spirit.  Nothing convinces us more that God must answer our prayers in that way that we think He should, then when we are experiencing continued heartache.  The line between legitimate desiring and illegitimate demanding is a thin one, which is easily crossed.  How can we be sure our desiring does not turn to demanding?  When we are willing to say, "if God does not grant what I desire, then I can still go on because I know that He will never abandon me, and in His love I have all the strength I need, to handle whatever comes" (Daniel 3:8-30).

To be cured of the sin of Demandingness we need to return to the Lord our God.  The pursuit of God involves a shift away from dependence on one's own resources to dependence on God. Obedience is extremely important, but it must be accompanied by deep heart repentance.  The reason for our repentance must be clearly articulated in words.  If we can't, then how do we know what we are repenting from inside of us (Micah 7:8-10)?

Repentance puts us in touch with God's forgiveness.  We can work to bring about change also, but the greatest catalyst for change is humbly positioning ourselves before God and asking for His forgiveness (Hosea 14:1-4).

Written by Dr. T. Cyprian Kia on the 15th day of October, 2000 at the Makurdi Plaza Hotel, Benue State, Nigeria

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