Prairie dog at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Staying alert so we know how to pray

Wichita is an interesting city. In the past, thanks to the multitude of aircraft manufacturing facilities here, we have all enjoyed something of an economic bubble. So when the rest of the country is scraping the bottom of the barrel financially speaking, we aren’t usually as bad off. Granted, the terrible economy still affects us but it doesn’t seem to be as bad as the rest of the country.

And we’re centrally located in the heart of the Heartland, where wholesome old-fashioned values are still worth something. Some have called Kansas the buckle of the Bible belt. And cost of living is probably the lowest of most other states. Life is harder here, though, than in other states; you have to be tough to deal with the climate and other aspects of living in a state that’s 90% sky. But overall, Kansas is pretty much bubble. And Wichita, though it has its moments, is the kind of place you can live and shut out the rest of the world pretty easily.

Meerkat at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Meerkat at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Ephesians 6:18.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Being alert is an exhausting task. It’s difficult to accomplish in simple communities, but if you try to stay alert in our world today? With governments and the threats that are active today? Yeah, not so easy.

But I find it ironic that in the Age of Information, where even toddlers know how to operate an iPhone, we are less informed about life in general than ever. It seems to me that the more we have the ability to know, the less we actually learn. Maybe it’s because we take it for granted that the information will always be available to us at the click of a mouse. I don’t know.

But I do know that if we are lazy and don’t take the initiative to be aware of what is going on around us, we’re going to be in a world of hurt, especially as believers. As followers of Christ, we are called to know what is happening in our life, in our family, in our country, and in the world as a whole. Why? So that we can participate the best way we know how, so that we can help people who need help, and so that we can pray specifically for the needs of others. And if we don’t know what others need, how can we pray?

I’m guilty of the generic “God be with so-and-so” types of prayers, sometimes because I’m too emotional to pray out loud what I’m really feeling. But mostly because I’ve been too indolent to find out what’s really happening in the situation.

And I’ll admit that I don’t pay as close attention to local or world news as I should. I don’t watch television. I don’t read the paper. As a journalist, I can hardly bear to listen or read anything that’s out there, mainly because I know the way it’s supposed to be done. Unbiased and true. Reporting the news instead of manipulating it. But every news organization in the world has become a marketing organization. There’s no truth reported anymore. It’s all spin. But even in all the spin, there is a grain of truth. And it’s my responsibility to know what’s happening.

I need to be alert so I know how to pray. Specific prayer is better than generic prayer for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it demonstrates how much you care about what you’re asking for.

Ephesians 6 is one of those iconic chapters that has been quoted in just about every topic and subject in study, and if you have the chance the read the whole thing, you should. Actually, I recommend reading the whole Book of Ephesians. it’s not long. But Ephesians 6 is where you find the text about the Armor of God, though in the Message version it doesn’t actually reference it as armor.

It’s easy in the types of lives that we all live right now to forget that we’re in a war. Living in the bubble of the Midwest where we still have plenty to eat and cars to drive and clothes to wear and entertainment to distract us, it’s easy to forget that the world is in chaos.

As believers, it’s our responsibility to be aware. Because even if we can’t do anything about it, we can ask God to take care of it. And God has proven that He responds to the prayers of His people.

Ephesians 6:13-18 (The Message)

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Don’t bury your head in the sand. Wake up. Open your eyes. And get ready.

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