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Prayer, Plain and Simple

If you’re anything of a sports fan, then you know the feeling. Your team is down and time is running out. Anxiety and doom begin to settle over everyone. And then, strangely, through some subtle shift in the air, a sense of change arises. Hope… There’s a certain sweet aroma to hope. Often it has no visible base. The team is still down on the scoreboard. The clock is still ticking or it’s still the bottom of the 9th inning, yet an intuition of certainty takes over and you know, you just “know” a comeback is on the way. It’s the wonder of momentum and every coach would love to know the secret formula that creates it.

When things look bleak, when the score seems out of reach, when all facts and logic say the game is really over before it’s over, that’s when we need the miracle of hope that turns momentum. As in sports, so in all areas of life. When we’re up against the wall, down and out, and at the end of the rope, we have a choice to make: We can either fold and give in, or we can stand, ask for Outsider help, and then look and expect to find a sign – even a very small sign – that the winds are shifting and momentum is moving to our side.

There’s a great story in the Jewish scriptures (I Kings 18:41f) about this very mystery. Israel was in the grips of a terrible drought. Elijah the prophet climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel, on the north coast of Israel and there he prayed and asked God to send rain. He prayed passionately, but nothing happened. He repeated his prayer, and then sent his assistant to look out over the Mediterranean to see if any clouds had risen. Nothing. Elijah did this seven times – praying and then looking for evidence of a change. Finally, after the seventh persistent prayer Elijah’s assistant came back and said, “No real change, except for a small cloud about the size of my fist…” Elijah jumped up. “That’s it,” he yelled, and he ran down the mountain to tell Israel’s King. Sure enough, in short order  a mighty story brought a torrent of rain. Elijah prayed; he looked for a shift in momentum; when he saw the smallest sign, he took it as a fact and acted.

This is for us. Today you might be in a drought financially, or with your health, or in a relationship. Maybe there’s no reason to hope. Maybe you feel like the game is over before it really is. There’s still a hope for the momentum of hope to change. Pray. Ask God for an answer, then look for a small hint that the winds are shifting. That’s hope. And hope takes a miracle. God does miracles. If you need hope, ask him, then keep watch for the subtle little movements that indicate a comeback!

“God, you are the God of hope! You are the God of the impossible. You say that you will make a way where there is no way. You divide oceans, and raise the dead, and create rain in droughts and food where there is no food. You can do this. We want to believe it. But sometimes our emotions look at the facts and all we can feel is doom. We ask now for all those who feel the tide of momentum against them. Give them courage to ask one more time for an answer. Then give the stamina to keep asking and keep looking for and expecting a shift in momentum. Give them eyes to see even small changes, and give them a heart to believe again and to thank you ahead of time for the answer, and then to act quickly once the first hint of movement arrives! Hope comes!”

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