Anytime one prepares a presentation, much like a written report, article, blog post or thesis paper, there are several iterations that could become the final product. Some ideas don’t go anywhere, better ideas take their place, maybe some good talking points came from brainstorming that ended up not being developed. You may even produce more than one version and have to make a decision but in any case there are always things researched or outlined that are left out of the final product. If lines or scenes are cut from a film you might find out about them in the director’s cut or by playing the DVD commentary. Since my goal is to post new material to my blog once or twice a week, I have a creative outlet for unused sermon material.
I preached What Prayer is Like on Sunday morning. There’s a link at the top of the left-hand sidebar, if you haven’t heard it yet. I once came up with a clever analogy for prayer, liking it to rain drops. Just a few might not seem like much but a flood can wash away cars, bridges, even entire landscapes. But prayer is not like raindrops, no matter how flowery my illustration might have been. Jesus only needed three words to bring Lazarus out of the grave. Elijah said a very short prayer and it rained after a three year drought (that he prayed for to begin with). Prayer is not about quantity. Prayer is about quality, determined by the one who prays. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16 NKJV
When we pray, it’s more like baby bears calling out to their mother. If you find a defenseless, adorable looking bear cub in the woods DO NOT pick it up. Don’t feed it, talk to it or take selfies with it. Get away from there! The helpless cub that you think looks like a live teddy bear will not be far from its mother. There is nothing more dangerous in nature than a mother defending her babies. Bears are dangerous in the first place. Do not let one find you holding her cub.
In the sermon I did mention Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and asking how many times he would have gathered them into arms like a hen gathers her brood. That’s one of the passages I go to anytime someone argues the Bible is anti-women. Of the many illustrations Jesus used, in one of them he compared his ministry to motherhood. One of the ideas I had that did not make the final cut was an Old Testament reference to bears. In 2 Kings 2, children were making fun of Elisha for being bald. He turned and saw them, then cursed them in the name of the Lord. 42 boys were mauled by two female bears that came out of the woods. That’s what prayer is like, not raindrops. Bears may not suddenly appear and rip people apart that give you a hard time, but we are like helpless little ones surrounded by adversaries. Keep squeaking those prayers. Your roar may not sound like much but our prayers are less about us and more about the one who hears and answers. You or I are no match for Satan but we can cast him out when we pray in Jesus’ name.