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~ Never Give Up ~

        Every second, four million tons of the physical substance of our sun is turned into energy and explodes throughout our solar system at about 186,000 miles per second.  From ninety-three million miles away, a little of that radiating energy reaches our earth in eight minutes. The earth's plant life hungrily absorbs some of this radiation and turns it into food which nourishes us.

        It's commonly thought that some of this sunlight "bounces" off the moon into our eyes to create moonlight.   Actually, the light photons from the sun hit the moon and, as in our plants, interact with the matter of the moon, "dying" in the process.  But the result of that interaction is the creation of new radiation, some of which hits our earth two seconds later.  Moonlight is actually created by the moon, since it is not a mirror but a unique celestial body.  "When I look at your heavens, the creation of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have set in place - what is a human that you remember him, or the Son of Man that you take care of him?"  (Psalms 8: 3-4)

        This radiation is of all types, frequencies and wavelengths.  Science has organized a picture of it called the energy spectrum.  Our eyes see only a tiny fraction of it.  Some animals and insects see more of it or different parts of it than we do.  Our other senses perceive just a fraction of reality.  Yet we act as though all that we see, hear, smell, taste and touch is our reality in full.  We may have seen infrared photos, but infrared or ultraviolet images are beyond our experience of the tiny piece of the total reality of which we are a part.  So the assertion "I won't believe it until I see it" is truly ignorant and self-limiting.

        Jesus told His disciple Thomas, "You believe because you have seen me.  Blessed are those who have not seen me but believe." (John 20: 29)  Thus when a doctor tells you, "There is no hope," remind yourself you are perceiving only a tiny piece of reality,  not the full thing.  The hope spectrum is so much greater then what any human sees with his physical eyes and brain.  Spectroscopes, infrared cameras and X-ray detectors help us see more of the physical reality. The Holy Spirit enables us to perceive the spiritual reality which both infuses, animates, transcends and overpowers the physical reality to which we cling too tightly and believe in too exclusively, even though we are instructed that we are not of this world.

        Jesus demonstrated thousands of times the reality and power of the unseen world of Spirit.  St. John ended his account by saying "Jesus also did many other things.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose the world wouldn't have enough room for the books that would be written." (John 21: 25)  Of course, in this world, when someone talks of seeing or hearing the spiritual realm and denying the proclamations of physical reality, he is accused (and often mocked or persecuted) of being delusional, "out of touch with reality," mentally ill, or on drugs.

        The 18th chapter of 1 Kings teaches us a mystery of how prayer impacts physical reality.  In a contest of faith and power, the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal squared off.  Elijah gave them plenty of time to induce Baal to send fire to light a sacrificial offering.  Nothing happened, of course,  no matter what Baal's priests did.

        Then it was Elijah's turn and he ordered the altar, the offering and the wood to be doused to saturation with water.  He prayed to God and immediately fire descended from heaven and consumed the offering.  However, the dynamic of prayer worked differently in the next described event.  It was time for the drought to end and Elijah prayed for that.  But the rain was not immediate.  Elijah asked his servant to look toward the sea from Mt. Carmel and report back on sky condition.  The servant indicated nothing was happening.  This occurred seven times. While the servant went back and forth reporting no change, presumably over a good span of time, Elijah did not think, "Well, since God sent fire immediately, it just must not be His will to send water today.  I'll just pray a fourth time and stop, or maybe even five times, and accept reality."  No, it took seven trips but finally the servant reported a "little cloud."  Again Elijah did not despair and pray again, but must have thought, "that's it!" because immediately he gave word to Ahab to get in his chariot and leave fast before the great rain hits.

        Why the delays in the prayer for water and not for fire? Whatever your thoughts, note Elijah's faith in his prayer did not depend on his servant's reports of physical reality.  He just wanted to know when to tell Ahab to make a run for high ground.

        Elisha succeeded Elijah as prophet and easily saw both the physical and spiritual realms.  In 2 Kings, chapter 6, Elisha's servant was very upset when he spotted his city surrounded by the Aramean army.  Elisha tried to put him at ease, telling him they had far more forces on their side compared to the enemy. The servant must have been ready to diagnose Elisha with delusional thinking, seeing nothing. So the prophet prayed for God to let the servant see the unseen of the spiritual realm. The servant could take in the astounding sight: the mountain around Elisha and him "was full of fiery horses and chariots."

        These prophets did not have special powers, but they were men of prayer.  James reminds us of the power of prayer, then immediately points to Elijah as an example, saying, "Elijah was human like us."  (James 5: 17)   Jesus had the most to say about the power of prayer and assurances of their fulfillment, both through direct instruction and stories.  Dr. Luke wrote in his account, "Jesus used this illustration with His disciples to show them that they need to pray all the time and never give up." (Luke 18: 1)

        In the 25th chapter of his account, Matthew records a profound reality of the kingdom that is rarely connected to prayer in current teachings.  Christ asserts that whatever we do for (and to) the least of His brothers and sisters, we do for Him, and what we fail to do for them, we fail to do for Him. This is not metaphor, but literal spiritual reality.  By virtue of His Holy Spirit, Christ abides in us. We are temples of His Spirit.  This is the profound intimacy for which He incarnated and died. Thus Christ feels your pain and your joy, your burden and your love. When you pray out of your pain and for your burden, Christ prays with you. Your burdens and prayers are His as well!  Paul declares, "Christ also intercedes for us." (Romans 8: 34b)  That is why Christ assures us so frequently of the fulfillment of our prayers in His name. The Holy Spirit reveals the unseen spiritual realm to us as we look through His eyes of faith, the "substance of things" yet to be manifested in the physical world.

        Not to be overlooked, however, is how in all accounts of Christ's teaching His disciples how to pray,  He immediately emphasizes the need for forgiveness of others. When He was asked how many times we should forgive someone, Christ said not seven, but seventy times seven. Given the connection to prayer, if we ask how many times shall we pray for something, Christ may well reply seventy times seven. In other words, don't stop and never give up, as Luke writes.

        Your burdens and desires of the heart are Christ's, and so are your prayers! This is a kingdom of God reality, transcending and overpowering any reality that burdens you from the physical world.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services

Weekly Reflections © June 23, 2001
"God's Word" is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations Bible Society. Quotations are used by permission.

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