I am amazed at how much we neglect the greatest source of power in our lives – Prayer. Are we just lazy? No! The answer is much simpler, but deeper. It is an issue of the heart and the heart is profoundly deep.
Preachers try many tactics to get us to pray. Some stir our emotions to motivate us. They employ stories from the Bible or real life to inspire us. Sometimes, they go to the dark side and use guilt to shame us into action. It works for a time, but our prayers quickly fade with our emotions.
Peter, this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times – Mark 14:30
My wife and I bought a house three years ago that backs up to a small horse farm. Along with the horses and a donkey, about eight chickens also reside in the barn and pasture. Daily, these eight trespass in our backyard. I do not mind. They provide humor to our life as they scurry about.
Among those residents is a rooster. I never hear him before dawn, but throughout the day he makes his presence known with the boisterous, familiar cock-a-doodle-do while his lady friends are well behaved.
Upon hearing this the first time, I thought of Peter. It struck me how the reoccurring crowing of a rooster would strike the memory of his heart. We know his response on that early morning when he denied Jesus three times. He fled and wept. Certainly he remained inconsolable for days. Shame filled his once proud, boastful heart.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” – Isaiah 26:3 ESV
We start with our minds but finish with our hearts. Attempting to figure everything out will only lead you down fruitless trails into a wilderness of bewilderment. We attempt to escape the cacophony of the mind’s voices in many ways. Some of us busy ourselves. Others exercise. Many retreat into an addiction of some sort – we eat; we binge on movies or social media; we indulge in alcohol or drugs.
Perfect peace awaits us. It is within our grasp. As stated, we start with the mind but we must finish with our hearts. God our Creator did not fashion our minds to comprehend everything. To do so would require that we be God ourselves!
Our minds do serve a vital function, but because we are finite, we also must engage the heart. Within our heart reside our emotions, our will, our conscience, our spirit and our mind. The heart has a sort of fifth dimension to it – something that is larger on the inside than the outside.
This is more easily understood when we ponder Paul’s words to us:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7
In prayer mingled with thanksgiving, the mystery unfolds. Our worries and anxieties come face to face with Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace. As we utter our petitions and our praises, we go beyond the mind. Our spirit connects with the Lord Himself. Somehow, beyond our mind’s ability to comprehend, an assurance supplants our worries. It is a mystery and we are to rest in it.
All of this starts with the mind. We read, muse upon, meditate upon and are guided by the Scriptures. The Word of God is intended to give us the fuel to have the courage to pray. Start with your mind, but end with your heart. Allow Jesus, the Prince of Peace to speak to your heart by His Spirit. The fruit of this will be a peace that surpasses your mind and worries.
The Blessed Journey by Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769)
Let Him lead thee bindfold onwards, Love need not know Children whom the Father leadeth Ask not where they go. Though the path be all unknown, Over moors and mountains lone. Give no ear to reason’s questions: Let the blind man hold That the sun is but a fable Men believed of old At the breast the babe will grow Whence the milk he need not know.
Nearly a decade ago, I dreamed that I stood on top of a hill holding three diamonds in my hand. A sidewalk went down from the hill with many steps. Suddenly, one of the diamonds fell from my hand. As though in slow motion, I watched it bounce down this sidewalk to the bottom and into the grass.
I fixed my gaze upon this diamond, hoping to recover it. I thought that if I focused my eyes upon it and the final resting place that I could easily recover it. Rapidly, I descended the same steps. I kept my eyes upon the exact spot, confident I would find it.
Upon arrival, I knelt and meticulously searched for the diamond in the grass. Much to my surprise, I could not find it. I did, however, find a few dollars which I picked up. After a long time, I gave up. Disappointment filled my heart and then the dream ended.
The first time I heard the phrase “Death by a Thousand Cuts” my imagination ran off with a graphic image of someone literally bleeding to death drop by drop. I had a great aunt who almost died from such a fate.
In April 1974, a tornado hit her house in Indiana. She lived in a two story farm house about 30 miles east of Indianapolis. The tornado made a direct hit and her house vanished. Only the foundation remained. Moments after the tornado passed, a neighbor drove down the road and wondered aloud, “Where is Mary Hawkins’ house?”
He parked his truck and surveyed the damage. Across the road from the former house, he heard groans and found her in a barren cornfield. The tornado had thrown her about 200 yards away. Someone found her bathtub a mile away. My brother found a letter bearing her name and address 15 miles away while hunting for mushrooms a few weeks later.