After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray
If I really want to lose something, I mean make it disappear for all time, I know exactly what to do.
I put it in a “safe place” in my home where I will “remember right where it is” so that I will “be able to find it right away when I need it.”
It’s like the story of my life, I tell you. I place important things in special safe places and then absolutely don’t remember what I did with them later.
I’m certain that when my back is turned, these precious items spring up on legs and dash out my door, giggling all the way at the cruel joke they are playing on the poor woman who will have to look for them later. “Just think,” I’m certain they whisper, “she’ll search and search. She’ll dump out all her drawers and toss out everything in her closets. She’ll turn over every paper on her desk. And guess what, she’ll never find us!!” And then I’m sure they share in the maniacal laugh of evil villains.
It’s a cruel world.
So, over the summer, I took my child’s very important Awana vest—-the one she had worked for an entire year to deck out with awards and patches and pins earned from hard work—and put it in a safe place so I would immediately know where it was when Awana restarted in the fall.
It seemed to make so much sense at the time.
Then the first night of Awana arrived. I opened up the safe place where I was certain the Awana bag and vest were tucked away and found . . . empty space.
I did some frantic mental rewinding. When had I last seen it? What did I remember doing with it?
On the way home, I prepared myself for the high-stress act of tearing apart my home to find the missing vest.
If you’re perfect and have never engaged in this horrible ritual of finding your lost keys or wallet or library book or Awana vest or whatever . . . let me assure you that it ain’t pretty.
But then we prayed. My girls and I bowed our heads for our nightly prayer and I asked for God’s help.
With the many deeply important prayer requests I had made that day, both for myself and others, this one seemed so miniscule and mundane.
And it’s not some magic formula that I just whip out whenever I lose something either. Many times (believe me, many, many, many times) I have lost things and prayed and still I didn’t find them.
But this one night after this one prayer, I tucked the girls in, walked over to the cabinet in their room, opened the door and pulled out the missing Awana vest. I had discovered the safe place without dumping out one single drawer in my home.
So often, I am quick to jump immediately to solutions and activity and doing things on my own rather than dropping right away to my knees. But that night I was reminded that time on our knees is never wasted. The energy we exert in prayer is always more effective than struggling in our own strength and ability.
Conflict at work? Don’t rehearse confrontations in your shower; pray first.
Concerns about church problems? Don’t draft letters to the pastor; pray first.
Scheduling issues with your husband’s work? Don’t practice storming into your husband’s work place and chewing out his boss; pray first.
Overwhelmed by a project? Don’t make lists and then plan how to quit; pray first.
Pray first. Pray unceasingly. Pray with thanksgiving. Pray for God’s glory and ask for His help.
So often we invest too much effort in and give too much attention to our problems. We make the problems themselves our focus rather than making the wiser investment of our time by giving it to the Lord in prayer and letting Him work on our behalf.
The disciples saw this principle in action themselves during one of the many stormy nights they spent on the sea. In Matthew 14, we read that after a busy day of ministry,
“Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it” (Matthew 14:22-24).
The disciples pitted their considerable skill as fisherman against the powerful winds and struggled.
Jesus spent time in prayer and then walked across the water to the weary crew, climbed into the boat and “the wind died down” (Matthew 14:32).
In his book, A Year With Jesus, Eugene Peterson says it this way:
While the disciples had been struggling in the boat, Jesus had been praying on the mountain. Their work was getting them nowhere; Jesus, strong from his hours of prayer, gives them what they need.
What issue are you struggling with right now? How much time have you spent working and reworking the problem, searching for a solution, and using all of your skills and abilities to resolve things?
Stop trying to survive the storm in your own strength. Instead, pour all of your energy into prayer. It is God’s presence in your boat that will bring peace.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King