Prayer Quiver

Prayers are the arrows of the warrior,
Not aimed at the enemy’s heart,
But shot into the air.

Under attack from my enemy,
I fire arrows into God’s throne room,
Messages tied round the shafts.

They fall at His feet,
He picks them up and reads them,
He adds them to His collection.

Just as He saves our tears,
He saves our prayers,
They last for all time.

Stand against the enemy He says,
But don’t be mute like small-g gods,
Stand and pray in His image.

Fire round after round,
As many as it takes because,
He will never let your quiver go empty.

Drawing by Mark Zechin

Read more poetry here

Taking a Knee

I’m taking a knee. I’m taking a knee for you.

People take to their knees in prayer. When I kneel, I humble myself and say, ‘I’m willing to intentionally be less than you.’ It’s plain I’m to do this before God. But I also should do this for you, because Jesus told His disciples, ‘This I command you; that you love one another.’ Love is a sacrifice. Love is taking a knee.

I don’t kneel before you because of your greatness, but because I’m commanded to love you, sacrificially. I don’t kneel to glorify you, but to acknowledge my own flaws before God. I take a knee now to demonstrate that there’s something gravely wrong.

So, the knee is a tool – a tool for proclaiming my humility.

The knee has also been turned into a weapon – a weapon of oppression.

George Floyd didn’t ask to take a knee, but he took a knee to his death. It wasn’t his knee and it wasn’t his choice. He prayed aloud until he died, but no one listened.

I’m still on my knees, praying that it’s the final outrage; this is not what taking a knee is supposed to mean. I have had enough, and won’t stop praying now; I’m just getting started.

Taking a knee used to only be a football term. The quarterback would take the ball and kneel, ending the play.

Taking a knee no longer ends the play. It has begun the play, and the clock is running. With God’s help, we will see its hands spin forward into a day filled with hope and peace. Taking the knee is now a word about justice. But first and foremost it must be a word about humility.

In Isaiah 61 God promises beauty for ashes, and we have more than enough ashes right now. But I’m not talking about burned buildings, wrong though those are. I’m talking about generations of burned lives.

Who is promised this beauty from ashes? Those who mourn. So, let us mourn together as brothers and sisters, and receive this beauty for ourselves. Isaiah goes on to say that those of us who do mourn will repair the waste cities and the desolations of many generations.

Let’s proclaim – together – that these generations of desolation have finally come to an end.

Let’s proclaim – together – that the day of freedom and justice begins now!

Let’s proclaim – together – that we will first look inside ourselves for these.

Let’s proclaim – together – that we will no longer be silent in the face of evil.

And let’s proclaim all this on our knees.

If you liked this essay, you may also like this poem.

Photo from Erik Mclean via Pexels

Never The Same River

(a two-minute read)

Sometimes when I seek God, I don’t get what I expect. Sometimes the Holy Spirit, who coaches me until I am ready to compete. Sometimes the Father, who overpowers me with His love and dominion. Sometimes Jesus appears, to teach – you guessed it – a word.

Sometimes when I seek God, He doesn’t come at all, in any of His persona. He leaves me alone. But this isn’t a lottery. I get what I need, and He knows what I need before I need it.

To use the cliché, His shaping and moulding makes me a vessel that can receive more of Him over time. Just as the potter’s lump of clay initially holds nothing, the artist’s hands slowly, patiently, draw it into the shape of a primitive cup.

Then, with more revolutions and more, the cup changes in size. It’s walls narrow and it grows taller. There’s no more material now than in the original lump, but it is given an inside and an outside. It has boundaries.

God shapes these boundaries in us, and as our insides grow larger, we can contain more of Him. In eternity, I’m a vessel that can receive all of Him. Here in the world, I have time and space limitations, but He has these grow, steadily, patiently.

In eternity, I’m a learner with the patience and obedience to sit at His feet. I learn. I worship. I grow. I change shape. I am filled. In the world, I’m a learner who can be impatient and disobedient, not necessarily from wilfulness, but from the very loud and real distractions presented by this life.

And so I go in circles on the potter’s wheel. No, it’s a carousel, and I reach for the brass ring that is Christ.

It’s His music playing as I go round and round. It’s His pony I am riding, and even though I move in a circle, I never quite come back to the same place. Like the water that is ‘never the same river flowing under the bridge’ the stream of my life is constantly moving, changing and growing.

From my belly will flow rivers of this living water. Christ promised it. I’m just a rock face. It’s the Lord Himself that tumbles out of me to water the plains below.