Monday, March 11, 2013

The Danger of Neglecting Prayer

One's prayer life is much like walking on water.  If you're gazing at Yeshua, you can traverse the seemingly impossible task of treading upon an unstable surface.  But look away from your Lord for just a moment, and you begin to sink.

The story of Peter walking on the water can be found in Matthew 14:22-33.  The story has been used throughout Christendom as an illustration for faith.  And surely, a lesson on faith can be found within.  However, while contemplating my grumpy demeanor against my neglected prayers, I realized this story can be taken at much more than face value.

This past weekend, amid projects, errands, daylight savings, taking the kids to the park, and other activities, my personal prayer time was neglected.  I have noticed since I've drawn closer to God, that it takes much less time for me to dry out from His Living Water.  The closer I am to Him, the faster I dry out when I turn away.  And I've noticed that when I do neglect my prayers, I am not a fun person to be around.  I am moody, selfish, grouchy, testy, and have a short fuse.  It seems when I'm bathing in God's Grace, I am then able to bestow grace upon others.  Yet when I neglect God's Living Water, it is nearly impossible for me to live gracefully.

In my home, it's known that when I'm hungry I turn into "Momzilla".  No one talks to me until I've had my dinner, else they risk their heads bitten off.  Lately I've noticed the very same thing happens to me when I neglect my prayers.  Apparently, spiritual starvation makes for Momzilla as well.

In the story of Peter walking on the water, we have the twelve disciples in the boat while the Lord "catches up" to them on the water's surface.  Only one of them decides to go meet the Lord on the water -- Peter.  But before he goes, he asks the Lord to bid him come.  And the Lord does.

We see in Peter that he "prays" to God, asking Him to draw him closer.  "If it is You, Lord, command me to come to You on the water."  This is exactly what I did when I began to draw nearer to God.  I asked Him to draw me, and to help me love Him in a new, and deeper way.  Again, we see the shadows of Song of Solomon 8:4 here.  One doesn't stumble into a deeper love with God until they DESIRE it for themselves.

The other eleven stay within the boat.  It's safe there.  They are still being buffeted by the wind and waves, but its safer in the boat.  They can see the Lord, but they aren't going to risk the impossible for Him.  They don't have to come out onto the water.  It's a choice for every Christian.  They are still believers and they are not punished nor rebuked for staying in the boat.

Peter steps out and begins walking.  As he walks, he gets closer to the Lord.  What he is doing shouldn't be possible.  He notices the waves and fear overtakes him.  He sinks.  "Lord, save me!" he cries.  And of course, our Gentleman God does.  Ends up Peter is rebuked for having "little faith".

Peter is the one who stepped out in faith, therefore, he is the one who was rebuked for having little of it.  But the Lord Himself saved him and brought him back to the boat.

Within this story, I see a metaphor for my own prayer life.  I'm the one who asked God to call me.  I'm the one who stepped out in faith.  I'm the one who left the eleven behind to go to the Lord and do the impossible.  And yet I'm the one who sinks the moment I take my eyes off Yeshua.  And it is so true.  When I make time for prayer, I feel like I AM walking on water.  Like I've risen above it all, flying high, that nothing is too hard for me to accomplish with God.  I'm happy, vibrant, and full of grace.  Yet when I neglect my prayer, I sink into the problems of this world, of worry, anxiety, and anger, which overflows to my family.

But Yeshua, in His loving faithfulness, is not willing to let me go.  He's waiting right there, ready for me to call upon Him once more in prayer, "Lord, save me!"  And once more, He pulls me from the mire to ride upon the waves.

I suppose it takes less time for me to sink these days because I'm no longer "hopping out of the boat", as it were.  I've already hopped out if it, and now I'm walking toward God.  There's nothing to grab a hold of.  I'm halfway between the boat and the Lord.  The worries of life are just waiting to swallow me whole, but the Lord stands above them and reminds me that I have wings as eagles.  He reminds me that He is my fortress.  This world might be unstable water, but Yeshua is a ROCK, unmovable and always there to rest upon.

And the amazing thing is, no matter how far the waves have pushed me away from my Beloved, He is always right there beside me when I call upon His name.  His help is immediate.  My head doesn't even go below the water.  Which is another metaphor in itself.  My body might be under the water (the Church), but my head (Yeshua) is above the tides.

The waters of this world are dead and stagnant, but His Water is Alive.  His Water is what gives hope, faith, love, and grace.  His Water is what soothes an aching heart, quiets a worried mind, and calms a troubled soul.  When we've looked away and begun to sink down into the dead depths, we should cry out for Him and He will be right there, lifting us up to stand with Him once again.

The more we cry out to Him, the more we will stand upon the waves with Him, and the more our hearts will become rivers of Living Water, overflowing out to those we love.  ~~John 7:38


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