Vicar Writes – Overcoming by a “Thousand Bee Stings”
Jesus prayed regularly and he prayed a lot. As a Jew growing up in a devout home, he would have recited the Shema twice daily and prayed three times a day. On top of these set times, he also frequently retreated in solitude and spent long hours in prayer (See Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46, Matt 14:23, Luke 3:21, 5:16, 6:12, 9:18, 28f).
On various occasions, he thought about the nature and importance of prayer.
Through the Lord’s Prayer, we learn about how Christians ought to pray. In Hebrews 7:25, we learn that He is always interceding for us.
Though Jesus is God, He is also fully human. He prayed because he needed to. At the same time, He also modelled for us on how we may live our Christian life. We see this in the way His disciples and the early church prayed (Book of Acts). It was a regular discipline. It also revealed to us their faith and intimacy with God. Again and again, we learned that it is the Spirit who help us to pray (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6).
In Matthew 26:41, Jesus said, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Praying daily and regularly is an important discipline.
In Luke 8:14, we read of how the seeds “fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.” In his “eating, drinking and merrying”, the rich fool was not watchful and unprepared when his soul was required of him. In Luke 21:24, we read: “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.”
The cares and pleasures of this world can numb our senses or lull us into a sense of spiritual “brain fog.” We live in the dark and not conscious of truth and reality. We become spiritually asleep. No wonder, we are urged again and again to be “awake and rise form the dead (Ephesians 5:14).”
We will hear today a sermon on the Parable of the Mustard Seed and Leaven. Small things do matter. If there is no leaven, breads won’t rise. If there are no seeds planted, trees which are life-givign for generations won’t exist. It is the unseen and seemingly insignificant daily disciplines which are the foundational for life’s successes. In the current Ukraine-Russia war, they speak of how Ukraine is fighting the war of a “thousand bee stings.” Small and tiny steps they may be, but if faithfully exercised, this is how life’s big battles are eventually won. “The journey of a thousand mile begins with the first step” and to that I add: completed by many more faithful steps.
We need to cultivate the habits of daily prayer and Bible reading. And we need to help, support or encourage each other to do so.