Good Morning Brothers….
The sweat rolls into your left eye as the compound bow is drawn back again…and again. It is early evening in August, the sun sits high in the western sky as the arrows thump into the target. Images of elk moving through the high mountain passes or clustering in the open pastures dusted with an early fall snow, fill your head as you force your body to draw – aim – release… over and over again. The mechanics of a good shot come from hours of practice and repetition. So many things work against the elk hunter when he is tracking his quarry. The winds, the elevations, the black timber, the sheer vastness of the land itself all conspire to keep the elk safe from a well placed shot. Any elk hunter knows, getting into position is the key to success. Making the shot should be an automatic thing…one filled with elation for the journey…not in surprise at making the shot.
The discipline required to hunt elk well…necessitates absolute faith in the shot. Standing, sitting, on one knee, wrapped around an old stump, squatting in the tall grass, or even from a treestand are all realistic places from which a shot may be taken. The disciplined hunter recognizes this and is prepared to draw his bow under any of these circumstances with an absolute faith in his mechanics and range. It is all in the preparation…the results should be elation, not surprise.
Do you remember the story in Acts Ch. 12, when Herod laid hands on some of the brothers, who belonged to the church, in order to mistreat them? He put James (brother of John) to death by the sword. Once he saw how this pleased the Jews, he then arrested Peter and put him in prison. Since this was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Herod planned to wait until after the Passover celebrations to bring Peter before the Jews for whatever dirty deed he had planned. The text says in verse 5, “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church of God.”
Later that night, an angel freed Peter from prison and led him into the streets. Verse 12 picks up the story, “And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.”
Now I ask this question…Does this sound like an assembly praying with expectation?
Back to the text, “But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.”
Do you remember the story in Mark 5 about the woman who was bleeding for 12 years and she reached out to touch Jesus garment as He passed by? Well there is another story happening at the time she reached out. Jesus was going with a synagogue official named Jairus to heal his sick little girl. This journey was interrupted by the display of faith of the bleeding woman. Imagine the impatience of the grief stricken father, as Jesus sought out the woman and said, “And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”
Hear what the text says next in verses 35-36, “While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”
After some instructions to His disciples, Jesus continues His journey to the house of Jairus. Upon arriving, He finds many grieving openly with loud wailing and crying. The cry’s turned to laughter when Jesus admonished them for making a commotion over a sleeping child. We pick up the text again in verse 41, “Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded.”
They were astounded, yet they sought Him out for that very thing. When God moves…should we be surprised…or elated?
When we are seeking God’s hand…His Presence…should we be surprised when He answers? Do we pray expectantly…with all faith? Many of us may be quick to point out the times we prayed and prayed and never saw the Almighty move. Times where loved ones died…times where it seemed God turned His back toward us…times where bad situations only got worse. Were those prayers of faith…or were those prayers of circumstances? Were we only praying for our circumstances to change…implying that our circumstances were unacceptable?
When we pray to God, that we remain faithful and trusting no matter what the circumstances are, He strengthens and bolsters our faith. We become the “light” we are called to be. This doesn’t mean we are supernaturally endowed with answers. This means we cry with the downtrodden, pray with the desperate, rejoice with the joyful…and walk in the discipline of the redeemed.
Praying expectantly…is a prayer for God’s will to be done. When He answers, we will probably be surprised by the manner in which He moved. This is not surprise because of previous doubt, but surprise and elation wrapped into an overwhelming urge to praise His Holy Name. Elation because we prayed “in His will”…and He is faithful to that prayer. When we earnestly seek the Spirit’s lead, the Spirit will help us pray…to edify, to glorify, by Your Name, in Your Will.
Listen to the words of King David from Psalm 5:3…
“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”
May we pray expectantly…and eagerly watch.