Have you ever watched a flooded, fast flowing river after a storm? It can be a spectacular sight.
In the book Wind in the Willows, Mole’s description of a lively river is intriguing: “this sleek, sinuous, full bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again.”
A river doesn’t really catch and hold onto things, or does it? Rivers that flow quickly carry a lot of matter known as sediment. Sediment is tiny particles of sand and clay, the remains of vegetation and animals, and even large boulders that are moved by the water.
Slower moving rivers cannot transport as much sediment as their faster counterparts. Instead, much of the sediment falls onto the riverbed.
There! You didn’t realize you were getting a geography lesson today, did you? At last my geography degree has come in useful.
We want our prayers to be like fast flowing rivers, which carry everything in our lives—the small, monotonous everyday tasks, the big events and grand plans, our anxieties and frustrations, as well as our joys and thankfulness—to God.
If we limit the content of our prayers, they become like a sluggish, slow moving river.
Just as a storm delivers a greater volume of water to a river and causes it to hold more sediment and debris, so a crisis often leads to us praying more frequently and intensely.
A crisis can stir up new emotions and different reactions. We cry out for help. We may doubt God’s goodness, or feel hurt by and angry with God or other people. Or, we express feeling totally overwhelmed and exhausted.
Holding back these responses instead of letting them flow through prayer is like damming a river to make a reservoir. The sediment that used to flow along with the fast-moving water is, instead, deposited. Eventually the reservoir fills up with mud, and become unusable for its intended purposes.
We want to keep our prayers flowing so we can be healthy and of value to God and other people.
Scripture tells us to get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go.
Take the opportunity, through prayer, to get rid of every thought, attitude or practice that impedes a godly life.
Eventually a fast flowing river will deposit its sediment somewhere, usually at the mouth of the river. This sediment is mineral-rich and makes excellent farmland.
We, too, need to leave our doubts and fears, our anxieties, and our thankfulness—everything in our lives—at the feet of Jesus, and before God’s throne of grace.
When we give our thoughts, words and deeds to God in prayer, he turns what looks like the debris of our life into rich and fertile ground from which we bear fruit.
This week, practice prayer that flows like a river.