ARMED WITH PRAYER
Prayer goes hand in hand with our desire, our needs, our wants and wishes. It grows out of our aspirations, our circumstances, our experience, our predicaments and a host of things we encounter. No one lives without prayer; regardless, of what one believes. We need and expect things and therefore hope, and we even believe that we can ourselves, or someone else shall assist us, in answering our prayers. Ultimately, we do answer each others’ prayers out of human compassion and decency. We may have to do a little begging, seeking and knocking before persistence pays off; for, human beings are not heartless, even the godless (Lk. 11:1-13).
Prayer does not have wings that can lift us up and take us away from our difficulties and problems and deposit us in a trouble free world. Instead, we have been given arms and hands that can be strengthened with prayer to help us face the hurdles that pop up from time to time. Prayer is a pause, that encourages us to briefly view the situation, before we attempt a solution. Quick and hasty decisions have had and have regretful affects. A simple pause for a whisper of prayer can be a life–saver. One of the unforgettable people that acted before he prayed was Simon Peter. He saw Jesus walking on water and insisted that he, too, could defy gravity and he began to drown (Mt. 14:25-31). Peter stretched his faith and made a spectacle of him self. I have made similar mistakes.
How often have we hoped we could raise our hand and make our trouble disappear? It is an unbelievable picture of the man Moses with a staff parting the Red Sea (Ex. 14:16). Then the same man raised both arms, supported by Aaron and Hur against the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-13). The outcome of the story was that while Moses did the praying, Joshua and his army fought hard to answer Moses’ prayer. We are encouraged to lift up holy hands, but we ought to be careful, rather very thoughtful on whom we lay our hands (I Tim. 2:8; 5:22). We are not in a competition with God, Moses, Jesus or anyone else, but with ourselves. Prayer is about us and about how we can succeed in this world. It is by giving prayer a hand, or even a moment, that can lighten our burdens and make reaching our destination easier.
Prayer has been my companion for eighty-four years. I begin and end the day with my companion and I take him with me to face whatever crosses my path. I consult prayer in every challenge, decision and difficulty of which there are so many. I do not blow a horn or set a time and meet in some lonely or sacred place, because prayer is by my side in the midst of the noisiest crowds. It surrounds me like two loving arms and gives me peace and safety in the midst of turmoil. It assures me that things are not as bad as they seem, and that there is sunshine in a rainbow, after the storm. There simply is no closer companion than prayer.
I also believe that prayer links me to my Lord Jesus Christ who prayed often. He has given us a sample of what we need to ask for. We can recite or whisper it in one minute wherever we are and whatever we may be doing. It is not at all time consuming; yet, it renews me mystically every time I merely whisper it. Most of the time, I use my own words and thoughts while I remember some one in need or in joy. Of course, many do not follow Jesus, but they too trust in chance or science or some man’s theory. It should not surprise us that in this life; they, too, find satisfaction in what they believe. The truth is that no one lives without believing in something, and no one can live without praying for some need or solution to a problem.
In my eighty-four years, I had to make many decisions and many adjustments. I have experienced that the ones I made with prayer were more satisfying. And when I sought the assistance of Jesus, I felt even more content. In this series, “ Arms with Prayer,” I shall share what prayer has meant to me and to many others, and then why we should follow Jesus as “The Pedagogue of Prayer.” He has opened a window for us that lets us look inside who God is, what He is like, and what He expects of us. Jesus has fundamentally changed our approach to God, not just because He has become our access to God; but, also the way He represented God as a forgiving, loving and merciful Heavenly Father, and not as an angry God that demands recompense. We cannot impress Him with words or work, but with clean hands and a pure heart (Ps. 24:27; Mt. 5:8). “The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27).
Join me in an experience with prayer that will tip the balance of living in us and in others that will lead to healthier relationships in our tense and explosive world. It is an experience because it requires action that turns enemies into friends. Prayer is not dormant, but active. It is not just praying for bread, but for making an effort to get it. We are told to take a lesson from the birds and see how or Heavenly Father feeds them. Well, they were not in their nests when our edible berries were ripening. The birds got to them before we did. I am not following an alphabetical or chronological order or sequence in praying and dealing with many different needs and problems because life is not an orderly sequence. Things do happen when we least expect them, and prayer helps us stay on top of them. Jesus illustrated with a Parable why we must always pray and not give up (Lk. 18:1-8). Those that are armed with prayer do not shut their hearts.