Prayer Thought: Don’t Think about a Pink Elephant
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Whatever you do, don’t think about a pink elephant!” What’s the first thing you think about? A PINK ELEPHANT! Or been at the dentist’s office with gauze and weird tools in our mouth as the dentist says, “Do me a favor. Try not to swallow.” Thanks Doc! What’s the very first thing you’re thinking about after that? Swallowing. You probably would have made it through the whole ordeal WITHOUT swallowing if the dentist hadn’t said a single word about it. But now it’s locked in. That’s all you can think about. It’s the bane of your existence. “How does he expect me not to swallow with all this stuff in my mouth? Does he want me to die?!?!”
This is almost a knee-jerk response to a stimulating message taken in by your mind. It’s something quite similar to the Pavlovian conditioning experiment with the dogs and bells. Similarly, athletes condition their bodies, their muscles more specifically, to withstand or increase the function of certain athletic activities. How do some perform at astonishing levels? Repetition and discipline. The athlete, as the Apostle Paul states, “Everyone who competes in the games goes in to strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Cor. 9:25-27).”
This passage certainly talks about being disciplined for Christian living and service. But permit me to take it to a specific place…PRAYER. What if prayer was so much a part of our conscious heart and mind that it was a knee-jerk reaction, like swallowing? What if our lives in ministry and missions was so focused on prayer that we “strike a blow to our bodies and make them our slaves so that after we have prayed (emphasis mine), we would not dare be disqualified for the prize?”
This would mean that everything we think about as far as our missionaries and those we serve would be covered in prayer at all times. It would mean our missionaries would pray fervently for revival in their cities and countries. It would mean that prayer would become second nature in the many different conversations we get to have with our existing missionaries and potential missionaries. Prayerfulness would never stop. We would adopt a, “Whatever you do, don’t think about praying for that” mentality! This kind of praying is what I believe Paul had in mind when he told the church in Thessalonica to, “Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).” And, in fact, I do believe some of this is already happening, which is wonderful. Now, as Paul said in the same letter to the Thessalonians…let’s continue to do even more of this!
This week pray about EVERYTHING. No item is too small. Remember that the Lord is in the 10,000 small moments of every single day. Purposefully go to Him with the major AND the minor praises and requests. Then at the end of the week take some inventory regarding how you learned to trust the Lord with the great and the small things of life.
Clayton J. Elliott, Kontaktmission USA
Director of Pastoral Ministries and Prayer