Monday, March 31, 2014

Jesus and a Word of Prayer

Last week, I read a *devotion by Stanley Ott in which he comments on the story of Jesus calming the sea found in Mark 4. Ott's main point is that is if all Jesus did was rebuke the wind and the wind died down and that was the end of the story, it could be left up to interpretation whether Jesus did in fact calm the storm or if the wind dying down at that very moment was coincidence. However, Jesus left no room for interpretation, according to Ott.

It’s the next phrase that changes everything. Jesus said to the sea, “Peace! Be still and there was dead calm!” 

To understand the significance of this you have to know a little physics. There is tremendous energy that is stored in giant waves as they roll and roil. When the wind dies down, the energy in the waves keep the waves thrashing around for a long time.

For crashing waves to become immediately a “dead calm” is totally unnatural. It happened because Jesus spoke with power of the actual infinite, almighty creator God of the universe.

If Jesus can calm not just the wind but remove the energy from the raging sea to calm it instantly with just a word, what can't he do in my life and for that matter, for my community through me? 

Think about the things Jesus did. He healed the sick and dying, not like a doctor or surgeon would, but with a word. He fed tens of thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread, not a chef's ability and knives, but with a word of blessing. No mother in history could have made those fish and loaves spread so far among so many and have so much leftover, but Jesus did—twice! He brought people back to life! Stop and read that again  Jesus brought people back to life merely by uttering their names. How does this not stop us in our tracks to marvel with awe and worship the doer of these impossible deeds? 

We've heard these stories so many times; it's easy to overlook the impossibility of the fact, the undeniable miraculous, breathe-taking, mind-blowing reality that these things actually happened. They were not like the grand illusions of Houdini or Copperfield. There were no mirrors and wires and beautiful distracting assistants and choreography. Jesus had the power to alter the physics of a raging sea as easily as if ordering rye toast and jam.

Nothing I will face in my life and in my faith journey is beyond his ability to overcome and since I am going through this life with him, I know I don't need to fear the challenges that come our way. One last thought –Jesus said to us, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12) Did you get that? We—you and me—we will do greater things than Jesus did! So why aren't we? I'm not saying we should all be walking around speaking over the sick, lame and dead expecting them to rise up and walk. Even Jesus didn't heal everyone within his reach and within the sound of his voice when he was on earth. What I am saying is that Jesus' power to do the impossible is not only available to us, but expected by Jesus to be used by us. How? The answer:  Prayer. "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

Hear me—This isn't one of those "name it and claim it" things and this isn't license to ask for and expect that pony or dirt bike you always wanted. In other words, don’t expect that new car to magically appear in your garage tonight. And it isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card for tough times or to get out of consequences of our actions. This kind of intercessory prayer is for the glory of God and the very serious work of God's kingdom. This is what we are to be about. This is one way that Jesus works through us, allowing us to use his authority to change the world in miraculous ways with a word of prayer. Prayer is very serious work and should not be taken lightly. 

I am going to try to remember that the next time I say grace.

*Stanley Ott devotion:  Building One Another, March 25, 2014; Vol. 13, No.5 Dead Calm-Live God;

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