“God finds ways to communicate with those who truly seek Him,” Christian author Philip Yancey wrote, “especially when we lower the volume of the surrounding static.” Nearly 300 years earlier, Isaac Newton made the same discovery, which he explained this way: “I can take my telescope and look millions of miles into space; but I can lay my telescope aside, go into my room and shut the door, and while in earnest prayer I see more of heaven and get closer to God than I can when assisted by all the telescopes … on earth.”
“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’”1
Prayer was an integral part of Jesus’ life and ministry. There are numerous references throughout the Gospels of Jesus praying. He taught His disciples to pray, they saw Him pray, they heard Him pray for them, and He gave counsel about praying. Before many of the major events, miracles, and decisions in Jesus’ life, and right up until the time of His death, Jesus spent time in prayer. The fact that Jesus made a point to pray and to teach His disciples about prayer indicates that it is an important part of discipleship.
I was thrilled to be a new mother again. Allen was one of those happy, mellow little guys. I would put him in his bouncer, and he would be happy to sit there, awake or asleep, while I rocked the bouncer with one foot and sat in my chair and worked on my laptop. I had a desk job and worked part-time at home, so I was happy for the opportunity to continue my work. I took pride in being able to multitask so well, and others commended me. Even when Allen grew older and was awake for longer spells, he still loved to be in his bouncer.
In working on this issue of Activated, I came across this great quote: “Relationship with God isn’t about what you do, how you do it, or where you do it—it’s about knowing who God really is.”
Even Jesus’ disciples struggled with really knowing God. One day when they were observing Jesus while He prayed, they noticed how He spoke to God intimately. They wanted to have that same connection, so they asked Jesus to tell them His secret.
The other night I watched a fascinating documentary about the famous fresco The Resurrection, by Piero della Francesca, painted around 1463 in Tuscany, Italy. Jesus is in the center of the composition, portrayed at the moment of His resurrection. He is seen rising above four soldiers sleeping at His tomb, illustrating the difference between the human and divine spheres.
“Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails! … I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.”—Psalm 143:7; Micah 7:7 NLT
“The straw that breaks the camel’s back” is the final item in a collection of burdens or troubles, perhaps even a seemingly small thing that threatens to take you beyond the point of endurance. The strain has been building up for a while, and finally you sense that you are about to crumble. You can’t stand it any longer.
There she was at the door, jumping up and down for joy, barking and wagging her tail, as if to say: “He’s back!” After a long and tiring day, I received the most wonderful welcome from our black Labrador retriever.
It made me feel good. I smiled and gave her the attention she wanted. After all, a dog is man’s best friend.
Quite a few years ago, our small family was traveling on a freighter from Europe to our new field of service in South America. Due to long delays in the loading of the ship’s cargo, we found ourselves setting sail in the dead of the Mediterranean winter, the same time of year as the apostle Paul was shipwrecked off the coast of Malta.1 We joked about that and casually prayed that our fate would not be the same as his.