Sunday, February 10, 2008

Breathe Out.

After breathing in it’s natural to breathe out. For those who pray, short “arrow prayers” are often the equivalent of exhaling. In Pray How to Be Effective in Prayer by Warren and Ruth Myers (NavPress, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1983, pages 111-115), the Myers note that “Short, concise payers offered anytime, anywhere are both scriptural and immensely useful.”

“We have had similar experiences with prayers which, like arrows quickly shot from a bow toward a target, are shot toward heaven for immediate help, guidance, or protection, or in response to special prompting.”

“We can use arrow prayers to intercede for others, even strangers,” writes Warren Myers. “Many times when I pass a person on the street or see someone on a bus, the Lord prompts me to pray that the person might come to know Him or have a special need met. Though we seldom learn of specific answers to such prayers, God hears them.”

“Nehemiah was a master of such prayers. While he was serving as cupbearer for Artaxerxes, ruler of the Persian Empire, he received the distressing news that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down and the gates had been burned. Later, when King Artaxerxes unexpectedly asked Nehemiah to state his request regarding Jerusalem, he quickly ‘prayed to the God of heaven,” then answered the King. Later in Jerusalem, when enemies tried to frighten Nehemiah and his men to prevent them from rebuilding the city wall, his emergency prayer was, ‘But now, O God, strengthen my hands.’ Nehemiah concluded his book with a brief cry to God that he often used, with variations: ‘Remember me, O my God for good.’”

The so-called “prayer of aspirations” is the technical term used by old school writers like Evelyn Underhill to describe arrow prayers more formally “The frequent and attentive use of little phrases of love and worship . . . keep our minds pointing the right way, and never lose their power of forming and maintaining in us an adoring temper of soul . . . They stretch and re-stretch our spiritual muscles; and, even in the stuffiest surroundings can make us take deep breaths of mountain air. The habit of aspiration is difficult to form, but once acquired exerts a growing influence over the soul’s life” (Concerning the Inner Life, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, England, 1999, pages 52-53).

In other words: practice, practice, practice. Pray. Breathe Out.

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