by Molly Audiss
Matthew 6:7, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
A few weeks ago I wrote about the mind, and about judging others with our thoughts. I will continue this week on the subject of the mind.
I suffer from an illness that affects most women- an overactive imagination. It’s amazing how quickly my mind can find the worst-case scenario in any situation. Even as a child, if I had a headache, I probably had brain cancer. If my head itched, I knew I had lice. My parents were always assuring me that I was fine. I wonder how many times I have woken my husband at night and said, “Did you hear that?” The poor man; I’m glad my parents didn’t tell him about my quirks when we were dating!
We women have awesome imaginations. Let’s use them to help us in our walk with God. One way that we can do this is during our prayer time. If we can “think ourselves” into the lives of others, it will really help us as we pray for them. This is one time where our imaginations should run wild. It is one thing to pray for others with a prayer list of names. That is good. But, as we do this, if we take time to really think through each person’s situation, it will put more sincerity and earnestness in our prayer. Mrs. Brenda Tefft taught me a great tool for my prayer life. She has a notebook in which she places pictures of the people for whom she prays. This helps her concentrate on those people as she prays for their needs. She keeps photos sent in Christmas cards and puts them in her notebook. Mrs. Jeanine Nelson uses this same method for prayer. I love this idea!
Seeing things with our eyes cause a stirring in our imaginations and our emotions. Remember that old movie that brought you to tears? If you had heard that movie on the radio instead, it most likely would not have had the same effect on you. A picture can say a thousand words. Several years ago, I had put my boys down for a nap, had made myself lunch, and had sat down to watch the midday news. When I turned on the T.V., the newscaster was telling the story of a little boy who had wandered off from his home the evening before, and was still missing. My heart went out to the parents of this little lost boy. Just then, they flashed a picture of the boy on the screen. This child was a dead ringer for my son! He was the same age, and he had the same blonde hair. Immediately I began to weep. I turned off the T.V., got on my knees, and started begging God to keep this little child safe and return him to his family. That picture personalized the ordeal for me. (I found out later that day that the boy walked up to a neighbor’s house, completely unharmed, and was returned to his family, after being gone overnight. He was found about the same time I was praying. God is so good!)
Our junior high students do a large project each year. They write a report and also put together a backboard on their topic. These backboards are shown at an Academic Fair. I remember one year looking at a project that a girl had done on the Crucifixion of Christ. She had displayed some very graphic photographs of the crucifixion that she found in a book about movies made on the subject. These were not drawings, but photos. They were gory. As I looked at her backboard in our gymnasium, I was moved to tears. Jesus dying on the Cross became more real and more personal to me. I bought copies of those photos in books to use in my prayer time. It helps me remember His suffering for me. I want to be moved when I think about the Cross.
It is good to be emotional in prayer. The Lord wants to see that we are moved by the burdens of others. Don’t just methodically read through a list; use your imagination to put yourself in the shoes of the person for whom you are praying. What if you were in the hospital bed, or the lonely nursing home, or if your loved one had just passed away? Picture those situations in your mind. Look at a photograph of the person, if possible. I have a picture of the nine Supreme Court Justices. It is on my treadmill, along with photos of the President and his family, and my pastor and pastor’s wife. I pray for these people when I use the treadmill. (Usually on a consistent basis!) As I look at portraits of my own family on the walls of my home, I pray for them and thank God for them. I have missionary cards on my refrigerator as a reminder to pray when I open the fridge.
We have very healthy imaginations. Instead of only using them to scope out all the potential pedophiles at the park, or the terrorists on the plane, or to forecast the end of the world due to the the pandemic or communist take-over, let’s put those imaginations to good use. Let’s use them to help us empathize with others that are going through hard times. This could really transform our prayer lives!