Devotion on Prayer: Petitioned Power

They say that firewood is a good means of keeping you warm–once when you cut it and again when you burn it in a fireplace or wood burning furnace.  Often, in the 40 years Shirley and I have used wood to supplement our regular heating source, I’ve sweat both times.  There has even been an occasion or two when the house was so warm in winter that we needed to open windows to regulate the heat generated by the wood stove.

I’ve always thought that burning wood was, also, a good way to help with heating costs.  But not all agree.  And I guess they have a point.  By the time you purchase a good wood hauling trailer, a good truck to pull that good trailer, a good chain saw to cut the wood, a good splitter to process the wood and a good insurance policy to help with ‘accidental’ expenses, it probably doesn’t ‘pay’ to burn wood.

Once, before I learned much about ethanol additives in fuel, I was using the regular fuel blend from the car gas pumps to fuel my new chain saw.  Nothing had ever happened before, but one fall morning when I went out to cut, I fired up the chain saw and noticed a large plume of white smoke billow out of the saws exhaust.  Normally, you would see a light blue or blue gray puff of smoke as the engine fired up.  I didn’t make much of it at first, but noticed that the saw continued to smoke after it warmed up and appeared to have less power than normal.  When these symptoms continued, I wrapped up my day and stopped by the dealer where I’d purchased the saw to see if we could discover the problem.  Setting the saw up on a work table, he took off the carburetor cover and noted that the air filter was fine.  He then asked if I had used regular gas out of the gas pump the last time I purchased gas for the saw.  ‘Yes’, I sheepishly relied.  ‘Is that a problem’?  ‘Usually not’, he noted, ‘but in this case it is’.  He continued, ‘You see, the alcohol in the ethanol blend used at gas pumps will, in time, say two or three months, separate from the gas itself and it will remain suspended as straight alcohol.  In engines made for alcohol’s higher burn temperature, this isn’t a problem.  But, in chain saw engines that have a softer cylinder wall, the alcohol burn will score (cut grooves) in the engine walls that will cause the saw to reduce power and smoke because of unburned gas/oil being exhausted from the engine.  In short, you need a new engine for your chain saw’.

As I processed what he said, I wrote a mental note to self–the firewood just got significantly more expensive to burn.

By now you’re saying to yourself, alright pastor, enough of the small engine class, what does all this  have to do with prayer.  Just this…

Jesus taught us to pray…’give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who’ve sinned against us’.  And at first glance these petitions seem to be unrelated, unless we see them as a sort of ‘spiritual’ fuel we ask for from the Lord.

When our Father in heaven looks as us, He sees ‘redeemed saints’ and ‘redeeming servants’–servants with a need for physical strength and spiritual fortitude to carry out His ‘will on earth’.  Serving as Christ’s ambassadors requires both physical strength and free souls.  So, Jesus taught us to ask Him for the food necessary for proper physical strength and stamina and for the freedom necessary for proper soul strength and stamina.

Therefore, we ask Him to supply enough food for the viability of our bodies and to supply enough freedom for the vitality of our souls.  And as we ask for His supply, we welcome His grace that empowers us to be self-controlled in our bodies and we welcome His mercy that reminds us to imitate His forgiving Spirit in our souls.  Few barriers to vitality in our bodies and souls are more significant than self-indulgence in our bodies and unforgiveness in our souls.

Let’s resolve to humbly approach the throne of grace as we ask Him to ‘give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’.

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