I remember my eldest brother taking myself, my cousin and other family friends to the beach. I really had phobia for water so i thought I wouldn’t enjoy my day. My cousin insisted one way to deal with fear/phobia is to face it. I summoned courage and tried to have fun playing in the water. Suddenly, a strong current picked up and started pulling me out to sea. Every frantic stroke I swam against it seemed to lead me further and further out into the endless deep. Before long, I was far away from the safety of the shore and starting to swallow more and more water. Gasping for air, I thought this was it for me. But just when I thought I was going to die, something remarkable happened. In a split second, everything changed. The waves pushed me from the raging deep water to the shore, and my life was saved.
I recently heard a friend say that “life is a storm sometimes.” How true that is! Life can be tempestuous, tossing us with winds of tribulations and stress. Not all of us will have to face physical storms of this kind. The storms of life are many and varied. They include illness, opposition, pressures at work, unemployment, relationship difficulties, family issues, disappointment, bereavement and persecution. We have all faced trials and temptations, and maybe even full-on attack from the enemy. Yes! That has happened overtime. The world we live in is like the ocean and there’s always the ocean’s current.
Storms can be assailant. They command our full and undivided attention, disrupt daily routines and steal time from us. Some storms even prove to be deadly. If a man shared with you that he was struggling – in his marriage, with a wayward child, about a health concern – what would you say? If a woman disclosed to you her fear of losing her job, of failing as a wife or mother, or of not being able to care adequately for her children, how would you respond? Would fear of saying the wrong thing, uncomfortable feelings triggered by the information shared, or general insecurity prompt you to change the subject? This actually happened to a close pal of mine, who fought to overcome her fear and finally approached her pastor, only to feel as if the door was slammed in her face. The lack of a caring response increased her feelings of shame and guilt and isolation. Failure to respond to even tentative and timorous cries for help does further harm to those who are already suffering. Some people may withdraw when others share their pain, reacting automatically to protect themselves because they do not know what to say, feel inadequate to help, have experienced or are experiencing their own trauma, and/or carry their own burdens of guilt and shame. They may also assume – perhaps mistakenly – that they are being asked to fix the problem that has been named. Even those asking specifically for assistance or advice need connection above all else. Just to know that someone understands what we are going through – and does not judge or blame us for it – is a powerful key to healing. Confessing our fears, mistakes, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities lifts an enormous burden from our shoulders, especially when met with acceptance, understanding, and grace. Teaching and practicing empathic listening and loving kindness enhances the healing of a faith community. Empathy empowers us to be with those who suffer, as opposed to feeling sorry for them without really connecting.
You’re out there and this huge storm is passing by. Winds are raging and things are crumbling all around you. The opposition you’re facing along the way is trying to pull you away from everything and everyone. It’s trying to pull you away from the truth into a sea of lies and deception. It’s hard to remember there is someone who can bring peace when we are being tossed so hard that we feel like we can barely hang on. Sometimes in life we just try to outlast the storm, forgetting to call on the One who calms the storm.
I want you to pay attention to this. In some of the most difficult times in life, I’ve learned the power of praying God’s words. It alone holds the ability to soothe our souls, to refresh our spirits, and cause hope to rise above the pain we might be feeling. And though our circumstances may not be immediately changed, though our hearts may still be hurting, we’re reminded through His Truth to set our eyes on Him. And that’s the best place for them to be – in all of life.
Prayer is an end in itself
Prayer is awe, intimacy(closeness and openness), struggle—yet the way to reality. There is nothing more important, or harder, or richer, or more life-altering. There is absolutely nothing so great as prayer. As much as we want to weather through the storm, prayer is not the means to an end. It’s more that getting needs met. It would be detrimental to have your needs met and stop praying until the next need arises. The man who prays is the one who leans and trust in God. His confidence is in the one who’s nature is to hear. Such man understand that God is the ground of reliance. He affirms that it is in God that confidence is reposed. A man may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that man is on his knees in secret is a function of how he sees himself. He doesn’t pray as though he has no idea of who he’s praying to. He understands it is fellowship.
The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life. Many people will pray when they are required by cultural or social expectations, or perhaps by the anxiety caused by troubling circumstances. Those with a genuinely lived relationship with God as Father, however, will inwardly want to pray and therefore will pray even though nothing on the outside is pressing them to do so.
You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.
Prayer is communion. You may be filled with anxiety, and during prayer you come to wonder what you were so worried about. Have you ever felt like that? You laugh at yourself and thank God for who he is and what he’s done. It can be that dramatic. It is the bracing clarity of a new perspective.
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
The pursuit of prayer is so infinitely rich and wondrous. We are taught that prayer should pervade our whole day and whole life; “pray without ceasing”. Prayer is a kind of artillery that changes the circumstances of the world, it is much more about changing our own understanding and attitude toward those circumstances. I just want you to understand that prayer is not just a tool you use when you want to clear your needs and circumstances, it is more. By continuous prayer. Affirmations are also made.