Becoming a Praying Mantis or Womantis

I was in the FFA barn the other day when I came across a very large Mantis (otherwise known as a “Praying Mantis”). I was startled at first (because the big guy was literally just inches away from my face… he could have killed me!), but then after shaking it off I decided to snap a picture. Praying Mantids are exceptional insects. They have very strong forelegs that fold together, allowing them to capture their prey, and hold on tightly to it (while they eat it). Because of this, they are able to continue their existence.

Human beings have something very similar to this in our lives. We have prayer. Prayer is strong, and as we fold our hands to pray, this act of faith becomes the very thing that allows us to hold on tightly (when life gets rocky, or in any season for that matter). Because of prayer, we are able to continue our existence. Life will go on because God is present with us – and we truly feel the presence of God as we pray (and as others pray for us!). That’s why Paul encourages the Church to “pray without ceasing,” and why Samuel Shoemaker reminds us that, “prayer may not change things for you, but it for sure changes you for things.”

So fold your hands, hold on tight, and become a Praying Mantis (or Praying Womantis)!!

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Steven Bell

Pursuing a Relationship

During spring break of 2015, my family and I went to Biloxi, Mississippi for a family mission trip. We worked there in Biloxi at a homeless shelter, painting, tiling, doing some general construction-type work, and sharing the love of Jesus with the guests at the shelter.

One day at lunch our work team decided to go to a seafood restaurant right by the marina. A boat had just come in from a guided fishing trip, and the guide was filleting the fish that the group had caught while out in the Gulf of Mexico. A very peculiar thing to me was that a pelican had cozied up to the guide, and was waiting patiently for him to share a scrap of fish. I’d never seen a pelican so close to a human before – it seemed almost domesticated or tame. It goes without saying that this pelican had pursued a relationship with the fishing guide, a relationship that benefitted the pelican greatly.

Isn’t that what we do when we draw close to the Lord through prayer? We pursue a relationship with God almighty. And Jesus encourages his followers to spend considerable time and energy doing this very thing. He tells us to, “ask, seek, knock” – and we will not be disappointed. But the benefits of pursuing a relationship with God through prayer are far greater than a few scraps of fish (sorry, pelican!).woman-praying-silhoutte-9a9453118bbae4a0305011d13314d0e2

I love what M. Basil Pennington (monk, author, and prayer-warrior) has to say about pursuing a relationship with God through prayer. He states, “In prayer we seek God. We do not seek peace, quiet, tranquility, enlightenment; we do not seek anything for ourselves. We seek to give ourselves… to God. He is the all of our prayer.” The greatest benefit is the relationship itself. We get to give ourselves to this relationship – we get to give ourselves to God. We get to ask, seek, and knock; knowing that whether our prayers are answered the exact way we ask them or not, we are building the most blessed relationship this life (and the life to come) has to offer.

We pursue a relationship with the One who is our Friend, our Counselor; yet at the same time is also our Rock, Refuge, and Guide. We pursue a relationship with the One who is our God – and we will not be disappointed.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Dr. Steven Bell