Prayer 101: FLASH

58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. (Acts 7:58-60, New Revised Standard Version).

When I think of the word “Flash” I think of my Navy days. Being a communications guy, a signalman, meant knowing the priorities used for messages. The classifications are routine (the lowest), priority, immediate, and flash (the highest priority).

To see a message with “FLASH” on it was rare on the signal bridge. When we saw it, it was always important.

Flash prayers are important as were yesterday’s breath prayers. For some people, a flash prayer and a breath prayer are one in the same. I disagree.

Today’s lesson has Stephen, as stones are flying at him and he is dying, saying flash prayers for others. He paraphrased Jesus’ flash prayer on the cross. Stephen says, as he is about to die, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

As I see it (others may define them differently), but yesterday we said, a breath prayer is often used for centering or settling. I see breath prayers as prayers we say primarily for ourselves. These short prayers us carryout Paul’s instruction to “Pray without ceasing.” When we see something, we stop and pray.

A flash prayer is generally prayed for others. When I drive down the road and see an ambulance with lights and sirens going, I will pray, “Lord be with them.” I am praying for the patient and paramedics. The same holds true for law enforcement and fire fighters. What they do is important. What they do is also dangerous. If I see a man or woman in a military uniform, I try to pray with them. If that isn’t possible, it is time for a flash prayer.

The term “Flash Prayer” is an allusion to a camera’s flash. Missionary Frank Laubach gets credit for the term Flash Prayer. These are quick prayers for guidance, strength, protection, etc. such as “O God, help me to tell the truth,” or “God, help me not to lose my temper.” In 1952 Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking. Laubach believed that power came in prayer. One of his methods was walking the street and “shoot” prayers at people. He called this “flash prayers.” He “bombarded” people with prayers of goodwill and love. He said people passing him “shot” prayers at them often turned around and looked at him. https://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/

I happened on a story from Guideposts I want to share with you today in closing.

Lenore Else was worried about her son Eric who was driving 150 miles home in a terrible storm. Like many mothers, she worried about all her children but she especially Eric since he was a sales red and drove a lot of miles. She also liked knowing others prayed for Eric too and everyone in the family did, even 15-month-old Parker.

The phone rang. It was Eric, sounding rattled, he said, “My car’s been hit by lightening.”

“Are you alright?” asked Lenore asked.

Lenore and her husband Bob found the hospital where they took Eric. He seemed alert and fine. “Lightening flashed across the windshield and hood. The hair stood up on my arms. I felt an electrical surge go through me. With a boom of thunder the engine and power steering died. I skidded off the highway. When I came to a stop, electrical sparks bounced over the hood…”

“He is fortunate,” the doctor said. “Someone is looking out for him.”

Lenore said she started thinking about the prayers Parker prayed for his Uncle Eric. For two months, every night, Parker prayed for everyone as three-year-olds do. Those prayers changed regularly but the prayer for Eric was always the same. They tried to get Parker to pray differently. Parker wouldn’t have it. He continued to pray, “God, keep Uncle Eric safe.”

Flash prayers matter. I know Parker’s prayers mattered. His and ours still do.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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