– Acts 17:27-28a (NKJV)
As the legend goes, a 16th-century Spanish sailing ship had lain becalmed far off the coast of South America for many days, with all hands near death of thirst. When a small craft with a group of native Brazilians passed within hailing distance, the crew bellowed and made frantic gestures, begging them to share some drinking water.
The Brazilians -- after recovering from a fit of laughter -- just pointed to the water below.
"No, no! Sea water will kill us all. Please ... FRESH water!"
But, as their new acquaintances persisted with the same reply, the Spaniards finally dropped a bucket and hauled it back up with ... miracle of miracles! ... FRESH WATER.
What these explorers didn't know, nearly killed them! First, that they had reached the vast mouth of the Amazon, and furthermore, that mighty river is so powerful that it projects its freshwater flow nearly 100 miles out to sea.
What’s this got to do with us five centuries later??
In his Mars Hill sermon of Acts 17, the Apostle Paul speaks of groping to find a God Who "is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being."
Of course, finding and meeting this "Unknown God" was essential to the question of where these Athenians would spend eternity. That is, what -- or WHO -- they didn't know ... would deprive them of eternal life.
But, Paul's "groping and finding" message is just as vital to us believers today, as we seek God's presence and power, both in the prayer closet and beyond -- becoming salt and light in an age when the storms of darkness are closing around us, when make-believe prayer and make-believe spirituality will no longer keep us afloat.
Quoting from my book When We Pipe, God Shall Dance (2011):
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"Surely, the sprout of hypocrisy emerges from the honest soil of man’s desire for substance. And when he discovers that substance has vaporized, or that it’s never quite been there in the first place, that’s when the games of make-believe begin.
"At first, these may resemble a rain dance—a zealous, if misguided, outpouring of human enterprise in the hopes of divine response. And as the days pass into years without a drop of rain, eventually, the dance itself becomes an acceptable end, so long as all the dancers keep up the scrupulous delusion of great downpours which are visible only to those who have attained their rarified level of consciousness.
"In Jesus’ words, 'The men of this generation … are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, "We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept."’ Why, it was essential that the whole generation keep step with all the piping and the mourning and the weeping and the dancing, for in so doing, they should carry on the fantasy that God himself was dancing to their ditty."
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You see, the Spanish sailors in our legend could have performed a rain dance in their time of need. Maybe they did. Maybe they drank deeply in their fevered dreams, only to wake and find themselves still dying of thirst in the doldrums. But, they were saved in the end when they finally tasted the fresh water in which they had lived, moved, and had their being all along!
What does this look like, as it relates to my prayer life?
Think of it! MOST of us spend MOST of our prayer time "seeking God." (As if He were lost!) And, when we tire of "seeking God" ... and not FEELING like we're "finding Him" ... well, that's when the games of make-believe begin, as described above.
No!! STOP AND DROP! Drop the bucket into God's infinite presence, Who is WITHIN US!
"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
- I Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV)
And, what was the very nerve center of the Jewish temple, to which Jesus compared our bodies, if not the Holy of Holies, that inner sanctum where God Himself met with man -- listening, speaking, ANSWERING PRAYER?
Why not pray ... daily! ...
"Dear Father, thank You that I needn't 'grope' to find you, that I needn't do a rain dance and 'cry out to the vast unknown' in hopes that You're somewhere out there listening. Now I realize that You're right here inside -- the presence of Your own Holy Spirit, within the Holy of Holies, within Your temple, which is my body. So, I'm dropping my bucket at last ... entering boldly beyond the veil of Your temple within my heart, through the precious blood of Jesus, with a quiet voice and unwavering faith, uttering my prayers into Your loving ear ...
In Jesus’ name. Amen"
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 7/19/2020.
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