S.O.S. What does the International Morse code distress signal have to do with our reflections on prayer? God has placed within us a beacon that sends a distress signal directly into His throne room in times of need. This is our Holy Spirit S.O.S that cries out, “God, Help!”
Unfortunately, it appears that I can circumvent this security system. When I find myself in a dangerous situation, I do not always send out an S.O.S. Instead, I tend to tough it out until my life becomes a big, ole, ugly mess. Why the delay? Why do I send out a distress call only when I am in sixty-foot swells about to capsize?
I delay because I am busy solving my own problems, constructing my own solutions, trying to captain my own little vessel.
God waits patiently for me to throw up my hands in surrender, but I maintain control of the helm. Stubborn to the core! When at last I realize that destruction is imminent, I let go – usually with angry cries of fear and failure – yet God is always there to catch me.
Can you relate?
We can be so obstinate. We don’t have to wait for desperate conditions to sound the alarm. God likes to hear from us day in and day out. In fact, Holy Spirit is available for non-stop communication, an unbroken connection to heaven no matter what the circumstances here on earth look like. When we cultivate a consistent lifestyle of prayer, we invite God into our circumstances so that earth begins to reveal glimpses of heaven.
I don’t know about you, but I would like to see a little more heaven here on earth.
When my husband and I started a family, I thought we had created a small piece of heaven, populating our own paradise with bright, blue-eyed children. But just like the story of paradise told in Genesis, our utopia was short lived. We discovered that we are sinners. Selfish, finger-pointing sinners.
As the years passed, and the babies arrived, family life became increasingly complex. The winds and waves grew fierce. As our little family ship tossed dangerously in the storms of life, we started taking on water. Were we going to capsize?
I was green and seasick. I ran for the railing, leaned over the edge, and hurled my prayers at God. From my journal: “I’ve been reading the Word, praying, meditating, fasting, praying some more, trying desperately to invite God to change the family dynamic between the children and me. Four boys at ages 13,11,6 and 3 know how to flare one another’s hot spots and they push their mom’s buttons as well.
“My motherly attempts to extinguish these eruptions seem more like throwing gasoline on the flames. We have an atmosphere of accusation, offense, retribution, selfishness, and the list goes on. Our fruit of the spirit had spoiled. Phew . . . stinky!”
In desperation one evening, after a trying day of failure and frustration, I hid away in the guest bedroom while daddy had dinner with the boys and took care of the evening routine.
Brokenhearted, I cried out to God, “I don’t love well, and it is starting to show. I hate the way this feels in my family. I can no longer point the finger at my children or my husband. I see my own failings clearly reflected in our strife.”
I continued on my face before The Lord, “How can I love others when they displease me? My love is sadly conditional. I extend love when everything is cheerful, but I am vindictive when something goes wrong. I know this is not Your nature, Father. Despite years of walking with You, I am unable to maintain a consistently loving disposition towards my children.”
I began meditating on the fantastic and seemingly-improbable 1 Corinthians 13 which I long to taste this side of heaven. I meditated on the passage from memory and waited as phrases from the beloved chapter came into my mind. With the arrival of each phrase, I asked God to fill my family with His love.
“Love hopes.” Father, help me hold onto your love when my children are driving me crazy. Rather than giving into despair, I want to declare truth and blessing with hope in my heart. Even when we show our sin, help me to hope that you are at work. You have not left us nor forsaken us.
“Love believes.” Jesus, I believe that you can change us and mold us to become more like you. Start with me. I have faith that nothing is impossible for you. Help me believe the best about my children’s motives and enjoy them as your children.
“Love perseveres.” I want to possess a steadfast love for others. Please help me to forgive wrongs and to turn away from offense. Without you, I lack constancy in my love. I want to love my kids not only when we are at peace, but also during times of distress.
“Love endures.” Despite my habits to the contrary, I want to stay connected to my children even during conflict; I do not want to harden my heart and withdraw love as a punishment. Help me to treasure the relationships you have established in my family.
“Love is kind.” Just a little dose of kindness would go a long way. Start with me! When I lose my connection to you, I resort to anger and shame in my relationships. I don’t want to be that person. I desire to offer compassion and care to my family.
“Love never fails.” God, you make a bold statement here. You have created a solution to every disappointment in life. Responding with your love changes strife into joy. Love never gives up. It never runs out. Please help me stay connected to your love.
As I got up from my knees, the Lord reminded me of this power-packed verse:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” James 5:16 (AMP)
I returned to my family, repented of my offenses, and prayed with each one for restoration of our relationship. Even though this is not the last time I would reconcile with my family – we all sin constantly – God reassures me that He takes action and makes my prayers effective.
Does He always answer how I want, when I want? No, but I have never looked back and felt that He failed me. He works everything out for my good — not for my convenience, and not on my timetable — but always for my good.
I do not know the challenges that you face right now. You may be weary and desperate, but I encourage you to keep praying. Send out that Holy Spirit S.O.S. Relationships can be maddening, and change may be slow, but your heartfelt and persistent petitions invite Jesus to calm the storms that toss your weary little vessel.
Prayer welcomes Jesus into your boat.
Prayer tunes your ears to hear Him say, “Peace. Be still.”
The wind and waves obey Him. Your own heart yields to Him. You are saved.
May prayer anchor you to God’s love. It is a love that never fails.
Peace. Be still.