Over the past couple of years we have seen a profusion of plastic bracelets adorning people's arms. They are multicoloured and usually demonstrate the support of a particular charity. People of all ages wear them but they seem to be particularly popular with school-children, who often wear so many it's difficult to see any skin beneath them! These bands are not always a reflection of charitable support - they often carry simple but powerful messages like 'Love', 'Peace' or 'Stop Bullying'. You may not be aware that these bracelets were originally a Christian invention, designed to carry cryptic messages of faith for those who wear them. The most common is 'WWJD' - 'What Would Jesus Do?' Or 'FROG' - 'Fully Rely On God' - reminders that Jesus is our inspiration and God is the source of all goodness in our world. I recently saw one which said 'PUSH' or 'Pray Until Something Happens!'
Next Sunday (the 8th of April) is Easter Day when we remember and rejoice at the resurrection of Jesus - for many, the most important day in the Christian calendar. Easter day is not only the promise of new life for us all but is usually the herald of Spring and the renewal of life throughout nature. As the days get longer and warmer, and winter fades into memory, so our 'feel good factor' increases. As we cast off the winter blues there can be a tendency to feel that we don't need God quite so much and so our prayer life diminishes. The 'PUSH' bracelet is a good reminder that God actually welcomes our persistence in prayer.
Jesus told the story of a man who was woken up in the middle of the night by a friend who had arrived unexpectedly from a long journey and was hungry and thirsty. Welcoming his friend into the house, the man then discovered his cupboards were bare. Not wishing to disappoint his guest, the man went and banged on his neighbours door. The grumpy neighbour wasn't too impressed
at being woken in the middle of the night and told the man to 'go away!' But the man persisted - hammering on the door until his neighbour finally got up and gave him some food and drink for his guest.
Jesus said, if this is the way a grumpy neighbour responds to a legitimate request for help, how much more will God answer the prayers of His children? For that is what God delights to do. Just as the man persisted in banging on his neighbours door so Jesus encourages us to be persistent in prayer. 'PUSH' - pray until something happens! There are many who say that prayer doesn't work and, when given examples of something happening following prayer, say that it's just coincidence - it would have happened anyway.
However, in my experience, when we pray, 'coincidences' happen! The outcome may not necessarily be the one we expect, but in the long term, turns out to be the right one.
As we move beyond the joy and celebrations of Easter Day and begin to enjoy the 'feel good factor' of spring, I hope that you will continue to 'PUSH' - or if you haven't done it before, give it a try, you never know what God may be willing to do for you or for those for whom you pray.
It is my prayer that this spring will bring much happiness to you and to all those whom you lift to God in prayer.
With all good wishes,