This past week in a Bible study, the topic came up of visualizing what we pray for. Now this isn't some new-age kind of positive thinking I'm talking about here; it's about what you picture when you pray and what difference does it make.
I honestly had never thought about this, but our study really got me to thinking. I had to ask myself, am I looking so much at the problem that the picture of it has become my reality? Or, can I picture what I am praying for and allow that "picture" to feed my faith?
For example, when I pray for my children, do I picture the problems we are having that week, or do I picture them serving the Lord - happy and successful in their lives? When I pray for my husband's healing, do I picture the problem and whine to God that I don't know what to do; or do I picture him healthy and happy and able to enjoy all the adventures our family has yet to experience? When I pray for my students, do I picture the attitude they are so prone to display; or do I picture them "getting it" and maturing into all that God has for them?
Simply put - do I picture what the problem seems to be or do I picture what God says? What I picture can determine whether I am feeding my fear or my faith.
That reminded me of a Bible story (...welcome to the first edition of Friday Favorites.) This story may be familiar to you, but as I am learning - there are a lot of people who don't know these stories. That is why every Friday I will attempt to "retell" a familiar story. This week we'll look at someone who had to decide whether to focus on the problem, or what the Lord said. This week we'll look at good old Peter.
This story takes place following the feeding of the 5,000! If there is anything that should get your faith running high, it should have been seeing Jesus take 5 loaves and 2 fish and feeding all those people and still having 12 baskets of food left over. I'm just feeding 2 teenagers and there's rarely ANYTHING left over!!
Anyway, after all this, it was time to head to their next "appointment" so the disciples got into the boat and headed out to sea. Jesus stayed behind to pray and basically told them He'd "catch up with them".
Can you imagine the conversation on that boat! I bet they were all talking at once about the miracles they had seen and rubbing their full bellies from the blessed meal they had just eaten. It was getting late and while they were excited, they probably also getting tired. It was about then that the storm started brewing.
This is how the Message version tells it: (Matthew 14: 24-31) "Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror.
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid."
Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come ahead."
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!"
Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"
There it is....Peter started out by visualizing himself walking out to Jesus; he jumped right out of that boat! He got a picture in his head of what Jesus said, but then his gaze shifted. He no longer had a "picture" of what Jesus was saying but instead pictured what seemed to be the very present reality - a storm. That's when he started to sink.
I love that Jesus didn't let Peter just sink. I can almost hear His gentle voice as he caught him and said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?" I also think I know the answer...fear got into Peter.
I have to ask myself what do I "see" when I pray. Do I "see" something that is feeding my fear, or do I "see" things as God does and thereby feed my faith? What I picture could make the difference in whether I persevere and walk on, or whether I let go of my faith and sink into the problem.
"See" what I mean? I'm thinking I need to "picture" what God has promised instead of the storm that has me praying in the first place. I want to see things God's way because my way usually doesn't work that well!
Yep, I'm thinking it's all in how you "look" at it. ;)
I'm thinking it's time to feed my faith.