Summary: What do we do when we have a problem? The Scripture is clear, and yet it is our our natural first response. The Bible tells us that our first response should be to pray. Why?
In the film, The Perfect Storm, a true story about an ocean going fishing boat that went off the coast of Massachusetts, way out into a storm. They didn’t go out into a storm but a storm developed in the ocean there, the North Atlantic. And they were trying to get back through the storm. And if you’ve seen that movie, it was a confluence of a big hurricane, and another storm front coming off the coast of the United States and another cold front coming down from Canada. So, it was a terrific storm. In the movie there, they’re coming back and they’re trying to come through it and at some point the captain decides, "We’ve got to turn around." And so, they’re in the fifty foot seas and every one of them is threatening to broach the boat. The captain is up in the wheel house with one other crewman. All the other crewmen are below decks. And so, the captain says, "Now, we’ve only got one chance at this." Because they’re going to go up the face of a wave and turn, surfing back down. "We’ve only got once chance at this." And his mate says, "And if we don’t make it?" He says, "Then we pray." Isn’t that typical? Isn’t that typical?
We’d like to think it’s typical of the world. Well, I’m afraid it’s typical of us as well. Having exhausted all other remedies, all other options, having tried everything else, we pray. Well that may be normal for the world. But, we’re not the world. We’re the children of the King. And while the world may consider coming to God in prayer as a terribly, overwhelmingly powerful event and they’re shaking in their boots, the fact is that as children of the King we know that God our Heavenly Father is saying, "What can I do for you today?" And yet, too often our response to trouble is everything but prayer. Prayer is the natural response to the loving revealed character of God. He has said, "This is what I’m like. This is what I’m like. Come to me. Pray to me. Ask what you will." It is not a dead practice of religious ritual. "We will now pray." Pray; the natural response of a person who is in a loving relationship with God.
I told you last week that we were going to leave our ’guilt bags’ at home, and we are going to leave our ’guilt bags’ at home. I even hesitate to use the word ’should’ in a sermon about prayer because we all get out our little whips and say, "Yeah. I should do that." But, as we look at the passage, we realize that this is what …. This is the normal response of the transformed heart. The normal response of a person who once was the enemy of God and now is the child of God. The normal response, not the whipped response, not the guilted response, the normal, natural response is to come to God in prayer. Now, we’re going to deal with some questions in this passage. It’s a tough passage in a lot of ways, the one that Chris read for us. But just remember, let’s remember what this passage is about. And it is about that prayer instead of being our final act when we are out of options, after we’ve done everything else, we finally pray. But, rather our first.
That’s the first statement that I want to make this morning is this. Prayer should be our natural first response. We do equate first responses with instinct, don’t we? You’re in a situation and all of a sudden you’re presented with a problem and we respond instinctively to it. You’re driving down the road on one of our super streets here and all of a sudden someone pulls out of their driveway right into your way. And so we don’t think, "I wonder what I should do in this situation, now someone’s pulled out directly….?" No. We instinctively slam on the brakes.
I heard of a woman who came home to find her husband in the kitchen shaking frantically with what looked like a wire running from his waist toward the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current, she instinctively whacked him with a handy plank of wood by the back door, breaking his arm in two places. Until that moment, he had been happily listening to his walkman. Instinct can be dangerous. But, isn’t it true that our instinctive first response is a great indicator of what or in whom we trust? When trouble happens, "Call 911!" We trust the fire department. "Call the police!" We trust the police. You’ll see, parents, you know that if your child is far away from you and they get hurt or scared, they will run through a whole crowd of people in their hurry to get to you. "Mommy!" Their instinctive first response is who we trust in or what we trust in.