When I was a kid, I was a cub scout and remember learning about hiking and orientation. My den leader took a group of us out into the woods for a hike one day, and each of the boys had to lead the group using a compass and a map and relying on what we had learned about hiking and orientation. There were checkpoints along the trail that would inform us if we were still on the right track. When it came time for my friend, Scott, to lead the group, we got lost in the woods. Scott was convinced he knew where he was going, and we followed him. It was not until about 30 minutes into our hike that Scott confessed he had no idea where he was. Our den leader asked him, “do you have the compass and map?” Using the compass and map, she showed us how to discover our way out of the woods. I can remember the den leader’s words, “the trees, the markers, the map, and the compass have not changed…we just got off track and need to find our way back.”
Several weeks ago, I have felt a great a deal of stress and anxiety in my own life and I confess that I found myself off track. With all that was going in my family and around the church, I found myself getting away from God (who is constant and never leaves nor changes) and trying to handle more on my own. And then I was reminded of the following scripture:
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.”
– Philippians 4:6-7
When I read these words, I realized that I was living a way directly opposite of what Paul writes in this letter. I was worried about everything and not spending enough time in prayer. As a result, I had very little peace in my heart. Prayer is a spiritual discipline that keeps us centered on our relationship with God. Prayer is what keeps us on track in life. When we pray the way God teaches us to pray, we find joy and peace in our lives instead of worry and anxiety.
I confess that I do not have the most disciplined prayer habits. But I believe I am “moving on to perfection” and I am not there yet. I have committed to be more disciplined in prayer. I have committed to become more fluent in the language of prayer. I have committed to worry less, and draw near to God in prayer so that I can live with “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” And I hope you will join me. All this month at 11:30 AM, a group of us are committing to pray. We are praying for the church, praying the Lord’s Prayer, and praying for awakening in our own lives. Set your alarm and join us for a time of prayer.
We need more God in our lives! We need more peace and joy in our world! We need more prayer. Have a great week and I look forward to being with you this Sunday in worship!
Grace and peace,
P.S. Next Thursday is the Community Prayer Rally. This is a gathering of people from many different local churches for the purpose of prayer. We will gather at our church at 7:00 PM in the Sanctuary. I hope you will plan to join us.