Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
As a faith community, we want to be spiritually transformed and be Anxious for Nothing. Where do we begin? We start with prayer. Nothing is more transformative than your relationship with Christ through your prayer life, and He will meet you where you are regardless of your anxieties.
The very first home we owned had a water drainage problem. I was told I needed a French drain. I didn’t know a French drain from a French fry and Google didn’t exist. I asked around and found out a lot of digging was involved. We had used every penny we had to buy the house so, with shovel and pick in hand, I went to work. I dug all day and felt as though I had hardly made a dent. Sometimes, that’s how it feels to pray.
The funniest thing about my drainage problem? The water heater was in the crawl space in a hole specifically dug out for it. When it rained, the water flowed through its little creek bed, from one end to the other, under my house to fill up that hole and drown out the flame on the water heater. Early in the morning, after many a rainy night, I crawled into the crawl space, and with my arms, shoulders, and head stuck in that hole, I bailed out my water heater to relight it. I scraped together enough money to buy a sump pump, but the water flowed so quickly that a sump pump didn’t help. Who wants cold showers or a river flowing under their house anyway.
What’s the connection with prayer? If I didn’t dig the French drain and solve the drainage problem, my future held many early mornings bailing water. If you don’t pray, your future will be frustrated with bailing water from the problems life throws at you. That’s not to say that if you pray everything will go swimmingly, but at least you will have a life preserver.
There are many reasons to pray: life’s problems, everyday needs and special needs, family concerns, rebellious children, non-rebellious children, other people’s rebellious children influencing your non-rebellious children, your rebellious children influencing other people’s non-rebellious children. Well, you get the idea.
When we get right down to it, the simply best, #1 reason to pray is relationship. You will never know the voice of God nor the mind and will of God unless you pray. Every relationship worth salt involves communication. In fact, the strength of most relationships is intimately connected to communication. Prayer is communication. Prayer is talking to God and allowing God to talk to you. Maybe it was my grandmother who told me that I had two ears and one mouth, and I should use them in that proportion (I still wonder what prompted her to say such a thing). True prayer allows God to speak too.
Honestly, sometimes prayer feels like I am digging a French drain by hand. Occasionally, I fall to my knees with my arms, shoulders, and head in a hole bailing out water once again. I feel like I spend hours when it’s only been minutes. Other times, the time flies by. So far, I have been unable to nail down what makes the difference. Maybe it’s my attitude going into prayer. Maybe it’s the environment or the lack of distractions. Maybe it’s the amount of sleep I got the night before. I don’t always know, but I always know this: the devil does not want me to pray, but God does. Hmmm, with whom should I side? I will side with God (see Josh. 24:15).
That’s what prayer is. It is taking your position beside God. That’s why we pray. Because when we don’t pray, we take a position beside the devil. As we say in Gainesville, “that ain’t no good.” So, I stand in prayer beside God. Sometimes it is easy to stand. Other times I feel like I will fall over if I can’t find something on which to lean. So, I will lean on God in prayer, but I am not alone. The Holy Spirit is with me to help me. And when I don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit helps me (see Rom. 8:26). When I don’t pray, I can feel the chill of a cold shower from “the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (see Eph. 6:12). So, I will bail water, I will relight the flame, I will wait patiently in prayer while the water heats up. But, above all I will pray!
This month during our FORWARD Worship time, we’ll have a very special guest who will speak about the power of prayer. Please join me on September 20 as we have a live roundtable with author Dr. Jim Pirkle. No matter where you are in your prayer life, you don’t want to miss this opportunity for a transformational experience as Dr. Pirkle speaks on “The Answer to Anxiety – Make Jesus Lord of Your Life.”
Your servant in Christ,
Dr. John W. Freeland
FORWARD Worship, a Transformational Experience, featuring author Dr. Jim Pirkle
Wednesday, September 20 | 6:30pm | Mt. Bethel Church Sanctuary