A brave team of men and women fighting forest fires in northern British Columbia stopped by the grocery store where I work. They were on their way home for a three day break; these firefighters had risked their lives for twelve days and were exhausted. A friend of mine came in to say hello at this time and we prayed quietly for her, in the distance, while they loitered at the cash register and paid for their sandwiches.
This is a broken world, and we can expect our province to burn up every summer, whether dry forests are ignited by lightning or careless people drop their cigarettes on the crispy edge. So what can we pray for when we expect natural disasters to continue and worsen? We can pray that the firefighters themselves will be full of living water.
Is Prayer Hopeless?
Do you ever wonder what the point of prayer is? When we pray together for those who stand with their hoses and shovels in front of the flames, our prayers do not guarantee that they will survive or successfully put out every fire. Sometimes evacuation is the only answer. Yet we are drawn to prayer.
Before his day began, Jesus prayed: “And he got up very early in the morning when it was still dark, and went and went out to a desolate place and prayed there” (Mark 1:35). Before performing miracles, Jesus prayed: “Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he gave thanks, he gave them to those seated” (John 6:11).
Christ prayed at all times of the day: for this he got up particularly early, but also “after he had released the crowd, he went up to the mountain alone to pray” (Matthew 14:23). If it was good for our sinless Savior, we want to do the same.
But how do we effectively pray for the firefighters, the paramedics, the doctors, the Red Cross workers and those fleeing their homes? Why pray for others when we know that God will determine their future?
The effects of prayer
When we pray, we rest in relationship with our Savior. Ezekiel 22: 23-25 says:
And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is neither cleansed nor sprinkled on the day of indignation. The conspiracy of their prophets in their midst is like a roaring lion tearing prey apart; they devoured human lives; they have taken treasures and valuables; they have made many widows in their midst. ”
Our disobedient actions hurt others. We can conclude that the opposite is also the case.
Paul instructed the Colossae church to “keep steadfast in prayer, being vigilant with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray for us that God will open a door for us to the Word to proclaim the mystery of Christ that I am in prison for – so that I may make it clear what to do to speak ”(Colossians 4: 2-4) ). Paul fully expected the prayers of others on his behalf to benefit his mission.
Set the example
We will not put out a fire with prayer. We do nothing for the kingdom except by the power of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit has the power to bring peace. Perhaps we cannot go to a firefighter like some sort of magician and give him a box of protective peace, but we can share the benefits of a heart that rests in Christ.
As Christians, we find peace in our Savior and calm drips from us (possibly, but not always in reality). Peace can be an effect of living water pooling around us for others to splash in. Maybe they won’t get soaked, just feel the relief of a few cool drops on their arms and legs. Maybe that’s all you need to inspire you to ask yourself, “Where can I find more of this water?”
Approach outsiders with wisdom and make the most of your time. Always let your speech be gracious and seasoned with salt so that you know how to answer each one (Colossians 4: 5-6).
Paul admonished the Christians at Colossae to conduct themselves in a special way that would make the gospel of Jesus Christ appealing. “Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures say: ‘From his heart there will flow rivers of living water'” (Jn 7:38).
People tend to notice when you overflow. As for the effects of prayer on the apostle Paul, perhaps he may have felt encouraged, loved, and erected. The requests of others who agree with us confirm our wishes as wishes from the heart of God itself. Your affirmation feels like an affirmation that your heart is in agreement with the heart of God so that you can keep praying in the same way.
Isaiah and living water
God promised His people through the prophet Isaiah: “You will be like an irrigated garden, like a spring of water whose water will not run dry” (58:11). Jesus said to the Samaritan woman: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty again” (Jn 4:13).
He was referring to himself, the living sacrifice poured out for all who would repent and believe in him for salvation. He is living water and we are also like an irrigated garden because his spirit dwells in us.
In this case, as benefactors of this heritage, we will be most effective now and forever for the kingdom if we get out of the way and let God’s power work in and through us. I think that’s easier said than done because sin stands in the way. But with sources of infallible water (as long as we keep our focus on Christ) there is power.
Our joy in Christ, confidence, and faith further the gospel and glorify God, especially where one feels parched. Maybe that’s the scorched firefighter. Maybe it is the firefighter’s spouse, parent, or sibling. This dehydrated soul could belong to an individual whose exterior gives no indication of an internal fragility that would have almost crumbled to dust for lack of a drink.
“And whoever gives one of these little ones a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, verily I tell you, he will not lose his wages under any circumstances” (Matthew 10:42). That reward is to share the power of truth, hope, and mercy of the gospel.
Help us pray
We can only flow with Living Water if we continually return to God for more of ourselves. There is nothing natural in us to quench the thirst of a parched sufferer. In Jesus, however, there is an endless stream of good who is the Spirit.
We pray for ourselves because we accept Christ’s invitation to the Kingdom work. Here are five prayers to help us get wet (in a good way).
1. Lord give us a new heart. Let’s get smaller so that you can get bigger.
2. Lord, how you change us let others see the working of your spirit in us. Become so evident that no one can overlook the effects of your righteousness on sinners like us.
3. Lord, let our faith and trust in you grow so strong that our own behavior appeals to the unbelievers around us. Make us peaceful, rested, gentle, generous, loving, self-controlled, friendly and trusting in you.
4. Lord, how they see peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4: 7), open the eyes of these onlookers. Many will see and simply be touched, but not changed. Father – give the spectators new eyes to see the living water flow out of us. Show them that this is not from us but from you, and that Living Water is free to anyone who asks.
5. Lord, keep changing us. Refine our hearts further. We want to be irrigated gardens whose water never runs dry. That is, we ask you to pour Living Water through us on parched sufferers. Help us get out of the way.
Father, we trust you to do these things because you are powerful, you are merciful and you are on the move. While fires ravage our province, ignited by weather, neglect and direct arson, they move incredibly fast and are dangerously unpredictable. But they are no match for you, Lord. Amen.
For further reading:
What does living water mean in the Bible?
What was the significance of the woman at the well?
What did Jesus mean by “My peace I give you”?
Is it true that we were created with a purpose?
What is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
Photo credits: © iStock / Getty Images Plus / Jag_cz
Candice Lucey is a freelance writer based in British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about them here.