It has been said that even as an exercise in itself prayer has psychological benefits. It can be a means of releasing the tension that result from worry and fear.
Yet we are assured from scripture that prayer is not merely a subjective exercise like reciting a Buddhist mantra rather it is the placing of our situation, needs and fears in the hands of God.
Looking at the story of Hannah in the early chapters of the book of Samuel, we see an example of the change fervent prayer brings to situations.
For a woman to remain childless in those days was treated as a reproach and an inferred some sin in the life and God’s displeasure. Hannah although she had the devotion of her husband still had to contend with Peninah’s ridicule and reproach. The stigma of her society at that time was difficult to cope with.
Her visit to the tabernacle and fervent prayer to the Lord was such the Eli the priest accused her of drunkenness. She promised any child that God gave her would be returned to the Lord as his servant. Eli when he heard her story blessed her and wished her well.
17Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” 18She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. 1 Samuel 1:17
The immediate result of this prayer made in faith was relief from the grief and sadness she had experienced: This in itself is a real blessing. These emotions accomplish nothing and if indulged to long can be damaging.
The great result was the birth of the prophet Samuel who was on many occasions the savior of the people and a great instrument in God’s hands.
The real blessing of prayer lies in its being mixed with faith in a God who engages with us and seeks our good. It is He who gives us peace in the midst of adverse circumstances and dire need.
The Christian message is a revelation of a limitless ability to deliver. It is never a try; it is always a triumph. – A Bunch of Everlastings by F.W. Boreham
The natural result of the gospel of Christ is to manifest itself in good works and charitable works at home and abroad. The tendency however, has been that the good work continues while the proclamation of the Gospel message goes by the board.
The other side of the coin is that the proclamation of the Gospel is made but it is not matched by a social concern for those in need.
In all things we must fight against a lack of balance and making our own ends the rule by which we act. We must take our lead from the New Testament church which boldly proclaimed the Gospel while at the same time ministered to those in need.
Wanna buy a duck?
Joe Penner was a comedian very popular in the 1930’s although little remembered today. Highly talented he was gradually sidelined by the repetition of the same sort of material and catch phrases e.g. “Wanna buy a Duck”?
While it is true that the Gospel remains the same basic message, it never jades us by repetition.
Like Rome it has many roads that lead to it. As we would a flower or a mountain, we can see the gospel from different points of view and in different lights .Should the Gospel become dull and uninteresting to us let us look at it from another of its many perspectives.