Thursday, October 14, 2010

Prayer is the Plug

Shortly after we bought our first (and only) house together on a tiny little lake in Minnesota, we started shopping for a boat. We had set aside a little less than two thousand dollars to make this purchase.  The shopping wasn't too terribly difficult because we had a small budget to work with meaning that about 98% of the boats on the market were out of our price range.

Within a few weeks we settled on an enormously heavy sky blue 1972 tri-hull monstrosity of a speed boat.  It was quite an eye-sore.  We were giddy with anticipation as we hauled it north toward our little house on the little lake. We couldn't wait to get it in the water.

We arrived home and checked the oil, checked the gas, checked out the torn vinyl seats and moldy padding.  We didn't care.  We saw the boat through lenses of love.  We had always wanted a boat. We finally had one. It did not matter that the boat was older than Troy and incredibly hideous.

We grabbed the four life jackets and even though it was dusk we made our way to the other side of the lake where the launch was located.  We put the old beast into the water and celebrated when it started right up on the first try.  For the next couple of hours we went around and around in circles. We were thrilled!

Finally it was too dark to be out on the water and we brought the boat in to tie it onto the dock.  We went in for the night, smiling at the fabulous purchase that we were certain would transform our lives into something far more exciting than it had ever been before.

A couple of hours later we were in bed chatting when I said, "what is that noise?"  Troy said, "What? I don't hear anything."  We laid still quietly listening.  A few minutes later Troy said, "I think it is coming from the lake. I am going to check."  The next thing I heard was Troy yelling to bring buckets and come fast.  Our boat was full of water and sinking.  For the next two hours we bailed water out of the boat trying to keep it afloat.

We had been so excited and so focused on the brand new boat that we had overlooked the number one, most important stay-afloat measure - we forgot to put in the drain plug.

And now you are thinking, "Yeah, okay, mildly interesting story ... aaaand - What's your point?!?"

The more I think about what we did with forgetting to plug our boat, the more I realize it is a metaphor for the way we forget the most important thing in our day-to-day lives.

I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I know it is sometimes true for me.  While I want something; I talk to God frequently. When things are bad I don't neglect that time with Him.  When I am worried about one of my kids or any other large problem comes up in a friend's life or my own, I pray all throughout a day. I don't forget.

Inevitably it seems that once I've found a little success and my prayers are answered and once the excitement or drama passes, I get forgetful.  I become focused on other things. I get self-sufficient and I neglect prayer and its importance in my life. I jet around and around the lake without a plug in the boat. I am careless and oblivious. I do that long enough, all of a sudden I'm sinking and in need of buckets to bail the water out.

Prayer is not a habit created only for our times of great need. We're not supposed to use it on an as-needed basis like ibuprofen. Prayer is an important piece of staying in relationship with God.  Prayer is a daily admission of our need for His constant grace and guidance. It acts as a shield and keeps us from beginning to sink even in those moments where we think we're floating safe and free.

I wouldn't knowingly forget to put a plug in my boat. 

Prayer is the plug.

"Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life "
~ Johnathan Edwards

"To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."
~Martin Luther King Jr.