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Praying with eyes open

Built on a Rock
Pastor Joe Steenholdt, Christian Reformed Church, Luverne

Growing up, my parents taught me to fold my hands and close my eyes when I prayed. This posture was a good practice not to get distracted and remain focused.

Yet, how does one follow the instruction from 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing” if you always have your eyes closed and hands folded?

Then it is good to consider prayer as not only a separate quiet time — but as essential to your life as breathing. Everything you see, experience and think about daily can be an opportunity for prayer.

Say you read the concerning headline of lost lives in the Middle East, so you air your concern to God. You see the farmers busy in the fields finishing up the harvest, so you thank God for providing crops once again and to watch over their work. You notice the cashier at the store seems to be having a rough day, so you pray for them and whatever situation they might face. You see a police officer parked and watching traffic, so you pray for their work and protection in the community.

After taking moments as an opportunity for short prayers, you may start to see that your life is not a bunch of happenstances but that you are living in the presence of God and acting as a co-worker with him in the world.

Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of World War II concentration camps, once quipped, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” This quote gets at the heart of how one views prayer — as something central for navigating your path ahead or only a device hauled out when something goes wrong.

Too often, prayer is considered the last resort or the last thing we can do when all other efforts have failed.

But what if it is your first and constant consideration and one of the most powerful things you can engage in?

If you’re anything like me, the constant barrage of bad news of human suffering, violence, and wars is disheartening and overwhelming. There are many concerning trends in our world and our nation.

In the age of social media, there is no shortage of so-called experts who think they know what the problem or solution is to the many complex issues. Many of these voices only contribute to the noise, so our church called for a special community prayer this past Wednesday to pray on behalf of our world.

In C. S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” there is a noticeable change in the children when Mr. Beaver first whispers, “They say Aslan is on the move.” The same expression is repeated at other times in the story to encourage the citizens of Narnia to be steadfast despite their difficulties.

May knowing that God is on the move and not only aware of our troubles but is engaged in doing something about them through our prayers drive us to entrust everything to the Lord in prayer (Ps. 62:8).

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