Meditating on the Commands of Christ (49): Where to Pray

Since the essence of genuine prayer is communion with God, we can pray anytime and anywhere. We can pray kneeling by our bed or lying in our bed, while speaking to our boss at work or sitting alone at home, as part of a gathering or as part of a retreat, with arms extended on a mountain top or arms folded in a closet. It’s like eating green eggs and ham. It’s good whether we’re with a fox or in a box. God is here and there and everywhere.

Prayer is like breathing. It’s the spiritual life-giving exchange of ideas with God, like receiving oxygen when we inhale. We don’t have to speak; He can hear the silent cry of our hearts! No one can stop us! We don’t have to move a single muscle. If we’re too tired to form thoughts, we can simply rest in His presence. We don’t need light; we can pray in the dark. We don’t need wisdom; we can ask for wisdom. We don’t even need faith; we can ask for faith too! Whatever we need, we can ask. He invites us to ask, but truly, we don’t even need an invitation!

However, Jesus does give this instruction: Prayer is to be genuine. Pretending to pray isn’t praying. You can pretend to pray anytime and anywhere, but it will get you exactly nowhere every time. Ingenuous prayer may catch the attention of others, but God will not hear: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).

Prayer must come from a sincere heart, directed straight to the heart of our sincere Father. Honest, earnest prayer from a humble heart offered up in secret will bear spiritual fruit. God will hear us and reward us for seeking Him and His help. What a blessing to have this most intimate and immediate resource available to us every moment of our lives! We can commune with God!

If you’ve never read the little book by Brother Lawrence called The Practice of the Presence of God, I’d like to commend it to you. Your library may have a copy, or you can buy it for $5.95 on Amazon. It’s short and sweet, and it walks readers through the practice of focusing spiritually so we’re more fully aware of living in the presence of God and can better apply the injunction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to, “Pray without ceasing.” Sound good? It’s great! In fact, it’s the greatest thing in life to me!

Text for this Meditation: Matthew 6:5-6 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Hurricane Harvey: A Truly Epic Storm

A blog follower from India asked what’s happening with the rain in America, so I thought maybe this would be a good day to share what’s going on with Hurricane Harvey. So far, it’s the biggest rainstorm in continental U.S. history, and it’s still raining, so we have no clue what’s yet to come. Hurricane Harvey started as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa on August 13, 2017, made landfall on August 26 at Rockport, Texas as a Class 4 hurricane, went back out to sea and has returned again this morning. Hurricane Harvey has unleashed over 50 inches of rain east of Houston, and it’s still raining this morning.  The record so far is 51.9 inches near Mont Belvieu, TX  (40 miles east of Houston). The downpour also caused one key reservoir to spill over, which has led to the largest flood in Houston’s history. Although isolated areas of Hawaii have had more rain, the overall effect of Harvey has had no rivals in American history, dropping about 3 feet of rain over most of the Houston region—some estimated 9 trillion gallons of water!— which affects more than five million people. According to the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin, the probability for such a storm is about one per thousand years! Last Sunday morning, the National Weather Service tweeted: “This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”

One problem that’s gaining attention concerns the wildlife, which are swirling in the floods. There are hundreds of thousands of American alligators in Texas (some seen have been up to 8 feet long), 23 species of snakes (all of which can swim, but only 5 of which are poisonous), and billions of invasive fire ants (who are the ultimate survivors, because they band together by the thousands to produce massive flotillas up to several feet across). In addition, there are all the usual wildlife common throughout America, such as deer and coons, that haven’t been able to flag down a Noah’s ark for rescue and are trying to find safety. For example, under the Waugh Bridge near downtown Houston, a colony of 300,000 free-tailed bats have lost their home in the surging waters.

Of course, the most pressing issue is saving human lives. Fire fighters from around the country are arriving to help, and even civilians who own pleasure boats are coming to aid in the rescue efforts. I saw an interview of one man who said “I got tired of watching it from the comfort of my own home” and decided to help. He had rescued over 2 dozen victims last night and this morning. The death toll has confirmed 30 dead, but untold numbers are missing. One center was trying to prepare dry clothing and food for 5,000, but so far over 8,600 have come for help.

In the midst of all the horror and grief, there have been some bright spots. Several news reporters pointed out that people were responding with compassion towards everyone…regardless of race…no questions asked about creed! One man pointed out that the heart of America doesn’t come out “when there are pitched political shows, we see the heart and the true nature of our country when you have a tragedy strike like this. Everybody wants to help.” Praise God for that mercy!

However, the tragedy is still very much in the making. Harvey’s path inland is producing some bleak predictions for Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and even into the Ohio River Valley. Please stay tuned, and thank you to all who are helping and praying. The estimates of economic damages are up to 50+ billion dollars, and I’ve noticed that charities such as Samaritan’s Purse are accepting gifts as they try to respond to the crisis.

Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).