40 Days of Prayer

Day 38: Straws

February 7, 2019

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Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Selah.
Psalm 68:19

From Our “Here”…

You’ve heard the expression, “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” According to one source, some Bactrian camels can transport 1,000 pounds. Other references list 300 to 400 pounds as a more reasonable long-distance burden for camels. Even that lighter load represents two average-to-large adults. A healthy camel can carry that load about 30 miles in a day.

A straw might weigh a fraction of an ounce, but if a fraction of an ounce is added to a maximum existing load, collapse is inevitable. Think of a giant hydraulic press used to test concrete columns, steel trusses and other building components. Pressure gradually increases, until one additional ounce causes the test sample to crumble or bend. World-class weightlifters can snatch hundreds of pounds over their heads until the addition of one tiny plate seems to glue the barbell to the ground.

In life, “straws” are those seemingly insignificant events that tip the scales when added to existing circumstances. Some bring a good-natured huff of exasperation. We push just a little too hard on our evening jog and feel a familiar twinge we know will hijack tomorrow’s run. We refill our morning coffee to the point of not-just-awake-but-awake-and-jittery. Far more of life’s straws push us toward discouragement. We struggle with a tight budget, then our car breaks down or our child needs a medical procedure. We encounter relationship challenges on several fronts to be compounded with just one more argument with a friend, spouse or neighbor.

“Enough, already! I didn’t need this!” we mentally shout out to the world, or desperately pray to God.

…To God’s “There”

Desperate prayers are always more effective than anxious cries of surrender. Consider these timeless promises the next time a straw lands on your already unbearable load.

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13,14).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Making the Leap

Your commitment to pray for missionaries serving at the ends of the earth is, in reality, their bedrock defense against straw surprises both large and small. None of those straws are going to surprise the Holy Spirit. Prayer warriors, distributed throughout the body of Christ, have the privilege and responsibility of responding to the Spirit’s leading and praying specifically for those critical circumstances arising in the lives of brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps you only discern the outline of a need. Pray in faith, believe on behalf of the person for whom you are interceding, and then expect the miraculous.

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