In the face of seemingly endless challenges, my friends turn to prayer. I have the great privilege of praying with them. The prayers are often simple, “Please help!” “Could you stop … from ….” The heart cry for peace is evident and the experience of peace is so fleeting. What is up with that!
I was speaking to some folks this week about just this dilemma. I proposed that perhaps we, as James writes “have not because ye ask not…” Maybe we are victims of our own inadequate prayers. In the ‘world’ when we pray for peace (which we certainly ought to do!) we are asking for a cessation of conflict. This is the world’s definition of peace, but if we see peace only as a negative, like ‘absence of conflict’ for example, we miss the point of Jesus’ declaration that he gives peace in a different way, not at all like the world!
We spoke about developing some exercises that would place us in a better place to receive Jesus’ positive gift of peace. We chatted about the saying “Nature abhors a vacuum.” and his parable of the house swept clean of evil which when left uninhabited became exponentially more evil. Our prayer asking God to take our anxiety or to remove causes of conflict are good and necessary but they are only half the answer, and half answers are really no answer at all!
We talked about a simple exercise of “palms down and palms up” praying. With palms down as if letting something go we pray “letting go” prayers. In these we ask God to take our anxieties and we leave with him our painful circumstances. We honestly cry out for his sovereign help! At the end of “palms down” praying we have poured out to God our cries and expressed our heart. Then we turn over our palms and pray “palms up” as if to receive. We ask him to pour out now and we sit in a receptive “palms up” attitude. We have asked for all conflict to be over ruled and now we ask that we might be filled with the promise of a peace that passes all understanding.
Many of my friends struggle with addictions which are a worldly attempts to fulfill this deep hunger for peace. Paul writes “Be not drunk with wine …. but be filled with the Spirit.” Jesus accompanies his promise of peace by breathing on his disciples and commanding them to receive the Spirit. Receiving may not seem like a very active exercise. The heavy lifting is surely being done by the Giver, but this activity of receiving is our part in the equation. We do so by faith!
It is our goal by this simple practise to unleash the positive power of peace in our lives. Many of the circumstances which pain and perplex us, are beyond our control. We must turn to the sovereign God for help outwardly and peace and transformation inwardly.
This at first seems too simple to many but for my friends, who are in the world’s eyes are powerless, the simplicity of “palms down” and “palms up” praying can make all the difference.
On another note, Street Hope has been falling behind financially the last number of months, but because of a generous gift we are once again “in the black”. We are grateful for God’s provision and pray positively that we might be a channel of His peace.