A flooded, fast-flowing river can be a spectacular sight, and frightening at the same time. It is powerful. When our prayers are like a strong river, they can be full of power and effective, too.
I love this description of a lively river from the book Wind in the Willows: “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.”
In a way, swiftly flowing rivers do catch onto and hold things. This matter can be tiny particles of sand and clay, the remains of vegetation and animals, and even large boulders can be moved by the force of the water. Sluggish rivers, however, cannot transport as much sediment as their faster counterparts. Instead, much of what they carry falls onto the riverbed.
We want our prayers to be like fast-flowing rivers, carrying everything in our lives—the small, monotonous everyday items, the big events and grand plans, our anxieties and frustrations, as well as our joys and thankfulness—to God. And not for them to fall by the wayside.
You will have, no doubt, seen pictures on the news after a storm, where a river has burst its banks and cars are being swept along in the current. Storms, in particular, deliver a greater volume of water to a river and causes it to hold more debris.
And so, a crisis often leads us to pray more frequently and intensely, and bringing the huge issues we face—sickness, heartbreak, disaster—to God.
Difficulties we face can stir up new emotions, too. We may doubt God’s goodness, feel hurt by or angry with God and other people, be filled with fear, or totally overwhelmed and exhausted.
Holding back these reactions instead of bringing them to God through prayer is like damming a river. The debris chokes up the flow of water.
When we bring everything to God through prayer, our lives become healthier and we become of value to God and other people.
Eventually a fast-flowing river deposits its contents at the mouth of the river. This sediment is mineral-rich and becomes excellent farmland. Crops are grown and harvested, trees are planted and their fruit is picked.
When we leave our doubts, fears, anxieties, and our thankfulness—everything in our lives—at the feet of Jesus, and before God’s throne of grace he can turn what looks like the debris of our life into rich and fertile ground from which we bear fruit.
Scripture tells us to get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. How appropriate, when we think about our prayers as a river. Take the opportunity, through prayer, to get rid of every thought, attitude or practice that impedes a godly life.
This week, practice prayer that flows like a river.