My young son and I enjoy playing by a little stream near our house.
One pleasant afternoon, his little wooden boat (actually just a disk of wood) got stuck on top of a large rock in the stream. Not missing a beat, he grabbed a stick and reached way over the water trying to dislodge it with the stick. Unfortunately, his stick was too short. Reaching out just a little too far, he lost his balance and fell into the stream hands first.
Amazingly, the slight change in water level and the redirecting of water currents from his hands thrusting into the water were just enough to lift his boat off the rock and set it free. Without ever touching the boat, my son’s actions freed the boat from being snagged and allowed it to continue on its way downstream.
Watching this scene unfold from the opposite side of the stream, I suddenly understood the effects of intercessory prayer. As it was with my son and his stick, oftentimes it is beyond our reach to give direct help to someone who has run into a snag in life. However, in some mystical way God has set up the spiritual realm like a body of water. Our diving into the water with prayers, petitions, praises, and sacrifices changes the course of the spiritual currents, effecting change for those who need help by bringing God’s peace into stressful or chaotic situations.
Imagine someone doing a cannonball into a backyard pool. Everything floating in the pool is affected by the waves and the rise in water level. In a lighthearted way, we could call intercessory prayer a “spiritual cannonball” and understand why it is that the more often we “jump” (pray), the better. All the more reason to “jump” higher and harder!
When I begin to doubt the effectiveness of intercessory prayer, I recall my son’s falling in the stream and how it set his little boat free. Then I resolve to do some spiritual cannonballs!
Pray today that Jesus, who is our peace, would help us to delight in knowing that prayer works! Ask the Holy Spirit to remind us to do “spiritual cannonballs” for peace in the world, in our community, in our homes, and in our hearts.
This is a selection from Finding God’s Peace in Everyday Challenges by Heidi Bratton (The Word Among Us Press, 2015)