First catch your ant

a little lesson on prayer

I’ve always been rather foxed about prayer. After all, God’s so big, we’re so little, and I don’t know about you, but my prayers are really wimpy. However, I flattered myself that if I could just understand a little tiny bit about how it works, then maybe I’d do more of it, and perhaps get a little bit good at it.

I’ve recently discovered, it’s a lot like frying ants.

it's really rather straightforward

I’ll explain.

In a book called ‘Upwardly Mobile‘, David Westlake uses the event of Jesus feeding the 5,000 as a way of explaining about how what we do makes a difference. He says: ‘…Jesus turns to his disciples – the Church – and says, “You feed them”… Not surprisingly the disciples’ response was similar to ours when we feel the sting of poverty around us; they went for the old “the need is so great and we have so little” line. How many times have we opted for the same? How often have our lips produced the words “it’s just a drop in the ocean… what good will my fiver/time/smile do when there’s so much more that needs to be done?” It’s true, in terms of pure physics, the little we have doesn’t look like it will go far enough. But we miss the point. Jesus wasn’t interested in how much they had, just whether he had access to all of it. He didn’t need them to have enough to answer the whole problem, he just needed everything they had. Once he had it all in his own hands, it was enough to solve the whole problem.’

I can absolutely understand where he’s coming from with regard to the little things we do to improve our tiny corner of the world, but that also helps to explain a bit about the question of prayer. What I mean is, if the tiny wimpy little prayer that we offer somehow gets mingled with the immense power of God, then we can do anything!

Thinking about this a little further, I was reading a book by Jack Kelley called ‘Children’s Stories of the Bible: the Adult Version‘ (It’s probably not what you think). Mr Kelley was explaining about David and Goliath and wrote that not only is this a historical event, but it also serves as a parable. Goliath and the Philistines are Satan, Saul and his army are natural (fleshly) man, and David is spiritual man (one who has a relationship with God). Natural man is completely disabled by the devil, not up to the challenge and fails miserably. Spiritual man is not able to overcome the devil purely by human means (using Saul’s armour), but is able to withstand and conquer the devil through the use of heavenly weapons such as those found in Ephesians 6. As the spiritual man belongs wholly and completely to God, he cannot fail, and this knowledge combined with the divine arsenal amd armoury mean that the believer will always triumph, and the devil will always ultimately lose.

So what’s that got to do with prayer? Those wimpy prayers are tiny, but as Mr Westlake mentions, God takes what we offer and he magnifies it hugely, making it a powerful force. And that’s why prayer is important; God is powerful anyway, he doesn’t need us, but he likes us to be involved, so he adds his immense power to our puny prayers and something amazing happens – we make a difference. On its own, the sun is not potent enough to cook ants, but add a magnifying glass, the heat is intensified, and the ants are well and truly fried. (I’m not endorsing entomological cruelty, it’s an illustration, people).

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