anchor prayer: wisdom | Acts 27:27-29
On the fourteenth night, adrift somewhere on the Adriatic Sea, at about midnight the sailors sensed that we were approaching land. Sounding, they measured a depth of 120 feet, and shortly after that ninety feet. Afraid that we were about to run aground, they threw out four anchors and prayed. Acts 27:27-29 | MSG
It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. Hebrews 2:1 | MSG
You can’t find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm. Proverbs 12:3 | MSG
Three scriptures, starting us off on three weeks of reflecting and praying three “anchor prayers.”
Prayer for wisdom.
Prayer for courage.
Prayer for love.
Too often prayer is the last resort. It’s what we do when we’ve run out of options. It’s what we’re reduced to when the plans have failed, the schemes have collapsed, the hull of our life is breached, the water is rushing in, and the pumps can only buy us time. Yes, then we pray. Then we shoot off desperate flares of prayer hoping that Someone will see and act.
But have you ever noticed that when Paul in Ephesians talks about “standing in the evil day” after seeing us equipped with shield, helmet, and sword, he has one marching order and only one? What is the one action, the one maneuver? Pray. In the Spirit. On all occasions. With all kinds of prayer. Pray. Prayer doesn’t buttress our work. Prayer is the work. All our efforts only buttress and support it.
In the classic shipwreck tale that Luke tells in Acts 27, after fourteen days of storm-tossed seas they had no idea where they were. They were hopelessly, desperately lost. Suddenly sensing they were approaching land – and that they were approaching it far too quickly in the dark, they tossed out four anchors and prayed for light. We’re tossing out three.
Three prayers that will keep us from running aground on the shoals of pride or presumption, from shipwrecking on fear or folly, from striking the mines of ignorance or self-absorption. With Admiral Farragut, our more willful self wants to shout, “Damn the torpedoes! (tethered naval mines were called “torpedoes” then) Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!” Most of Farragut’s fleet made it through the batteries and won the day at Mobile Bay in 1864. There is a time for four bells and full speed ahead – but how crucial are the four anchors!
These three anchor prayers are never out of season.
They are our breath, our life.
They are our firm footing in life’s swamp, our life-saver in the storm.
The next three weeks will feel a little different. Our normal pattern is a passage to reflect upon, a few (okay, sometimes too many) composed words to receive and chew upon, a question to relate to your life, and a prayer of response. The rest of this week, you will be given a passage to reflect upon, but instead of my composed thoughts, we are gently challenging you to listen and write your own. It’s the discipline of journaling – which may cause you to groan.
But try it.
Let your thoughts tumble onto page through pen or pencil.
Don’t try to be profound or polished or right.
Simply listen, and allow thoughts, whether many or few, to tumble out onto the page.
By challenging you to do this four times this week, it is our hope that you will at least give it a shot once.
Or even Draw, Paint.
And if you are engaging in this study with a small group, be bold and share something that you saw through the point of that pen, pencil, or brush…
When most recently have you sensed the deep need for an anchor in your life? Who or what has been that for you? Has prayer ever been such an “anchor for the soul” for you? If yes, how?
Living God, I invite you to take hold of my life today for your purposes.
Please fill me with the Living Water of your Holy Spirit that as you pour me out:
my motives may be rooted in your Love,
my decisions may be rooted in your Wisdom,
and my actions may be rooted in your Courage.