One of the great privileges of serving as a deacon is the opportunity to be one of the first to pray over needs shared at the beginning of the worship service. Our congregation is invited to fill out prayer request cards which are available in each pew. They simply say, "Let us pray with you," leaving a blank space, with the prompt, "My request is ..."
A particular prayer request stood out to me. It was the scribblings of a young child filling out the blank prayer card as he sat in the pew. Just a squiggly line — up, down, and back and forth on the card.
I love the heart of a child eager to participate and share their scribbles for prayer. “Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16, NIV).
It also reminded me that this is how a lot of my prayers must sound before the sovereign God. My praying must often be not much more than scribbles of unintelligible ideas and whinings when presented to Him. But I am glad that he knows them better than I do.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26, ESV).
March may be springtime in much of the country, but in the mountains of Lane County, Oregon, winter is still raging — a point that become abundantly clear to motorist Casey Ryan.
While traveling a mountain road “not maintained for winter travel,” Ryan came upon another driver who had been stuck in the snow for several days. In attempting to help the other traveler extricate his car, his own vehicle became helplessly stuck in the snow.
He tried to no avail to reach out for help, but couldn’t get a cell signal to connect a call or send a text message. Thankfully, quick thinking prevailed.
Ryan, an experienced mountain photographer/videographer, just happened to keep drone equipment in his car which he typically used for overhead photos and videos. He quickly typed out a text message to a trusted friend pleading for help, along with coordinates for his location. He then tied his phone to his drone, and sent it soaring. Once it reached a high enough elevation, the phone was able to connect with a cell tower and shoot off his text message. Help arrived soon after.
"He then typed a text message to a trusted person describing his situation and exact location, hit send, and launched the drone several hundred feet into the air." -- Lane County Sheriff
Click here for the Lane County Sheriff’s Facebook post.
Fortunately, when we need help from our Heavenly Father, we don't need to rely on a cell signal. We need but to open our mouths or hearts and utter the words. He knows right where we are. He knows just what we need, even before we can express it. That said, when trials come, it’s important for us to quickly look up and lift up our cry for help! Not because God doesn't know our situation, but because He longs for us to reach out in trust.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help com? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2, ESV).
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17, ESV).
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3, ESV).
In the opening game of 2023's Monday Night Football, the Buffalo Bills took to the field against the Cincinnati Bengals. Among the players was Bills’ safety, 24 year old Damar Hamlin. At 9:05, the ball in play, Hamlin tackled Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins, then suddenly collapsed on the field in full cardiac arrest. Fans and players stood in stunned disbelief as team medical personnel and EMS first responders performed CPR for more than 9 minutes to revive and stabilize him enough to be able to remove him from the field, then transfer him to the hospital where he remained in critical condition.
Ultimately, play was suspended. Yet something amazing happened, both on and off the field. America collectively took a knee — in PRAYER!
Pastor and evangelist Dave Kistler, founder and leader of H.O.P.E. Ministries International, made this powerful observation:
The world of social media, in fact the world in general, is abuzz over Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field last evening. Thankfully, quick responding sports physicians were able to perform aggressive CPR and evidently get Hamlin’s heart beating after a reported cardiac arrest.
Photos have flooded Facebook, including pics of stunned and weeping players and coaches. But, none deserves more attention than the one of players from both teams KNEELING in unified and energetic prayer as the ambulance carried Damar Hamlin from the field.
Over the course of the last 11 hours, the requests for prayer from fans, players, coaches, and even sports broadcasters and media pundits have absolutely flooded social and mainstream media.
My dad used to say, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Evidently, there are no atheists amid a stunningly frightening incident like the world witnessed last night in Cincinnati.
Coach Joe Kennedy of the Bremerton High School in Bremerton, WA must be smiling right now, not for his recent religious freedom win at the Supreme Court only, but for the glaringly obvious fact that human beings’ first and correct response in tragedy is to turn to God.
That response occurred last night on a global stage and NO ONE could stop it! No Freedom From Religion Foundation staffer complained, no “separation of church and state” advocate protested. NO ONE wanted to!
The seriousness of the event demanded nothing less than earnest, aggressive, and united prayer - prayer to a God who cares and loves, and prayer that has been answered, as Damar Hamlin is alive with reported normal vitals, though in VERY serious condition.
Human beings everywhere, especially God-deniers, would do well to recognize that there is a God-shaped void in all of us - a void that no amount of athleticism (and I’m ALL for health, exercise, and fitness) money, fame, pleasure, or notoriety can fill!!!
... [Man] DESPERATELY NEEDS the comfort of God found ONLY in the God of all comfort - Jesus Christ! Mankind needs a relationship with Jesus for life here on earth, but more importantly for eternity!
"Pray without ceasing," (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV).
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need," (Hebrews 4:16, ESV).