I wrote about a fascinating creature called an Ichneumon in my book, Why God Waits For You To Pray. This small weasel-like creature can murder poisonous snakes up to a yard long, even after being bitten repeatedly.
So, how does this tough little character survive? Well, it never attacks a snake unless he’s near a certain plant whose leaves produce anti-venom sap. When bitten, the ichneumon rushes to the plant, nibbles the leaves, recovers and then attacks the snake again.
I’m trying to pattern my prayer life after that animal’s survival tactics. You see, when I’ve been too involved in life, in the problems of people and ministry, in combating the Serpent, etc. – then I need a prayer-break.
I’m not much good to anyone when I’m tired, discouraged, beaten down and generally overwhelmed by too many demands. Sometimes I even find myself avoiding people because of the drain on my spiritual electrical system.
And sometimes I’m like a kid on a carousel who wants off, but can’t jump because it’s still moving. I have to wait… wait for those times when I can retreat into prayer – that sublime land where all cares melt in the glow of the Father’s warm acceptance.
Jesus had the same need. In the middle of crushing demands on his time, when news about him had spread throughout the land and crowds tugged at him to heal their kids and lead them out of Roman slavery, the word says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”. (Luke 5:16 NIV).
And the Lord demanded the same of his own disciples: “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'” (Mark 6:31 NIV).
Jesus knew that a warrior’s time spent sharpening his sword isn’t wasted. In the battle, the time-investment pays off. That’s why he told the disciples, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation”. (Luke 22:40 NIV).
Maybe I should try that spiritual anti-venom stuff before the battle begins…