I learned a profound lesson last week about prayer through an unlikely activity–splitting firewood.
My wife Susie, my daughter Sara and I spent a few days last week at our family’s 100-year-old cabin in Estes Park, Colorado. We recently lost five pine trees due to mistletoe, and I asked the tree guys to leave tree rounds so I could turn them into firewood.
A wood splitter is like a very heavy, rather dull ax. You swing the wood splitter against the open face of the round. The repeated pounding creates a weakness in the round and it eventually splits in half.
I have to tell you, there’s no better feeling than swinging that heavy splitter and have a huge round split wide open before you. It kind of made me feel like I may have missed my calling to be a lumberjack.
Anyway, I need to point out that the rounds never split on the first swing. I had to hit some of them 10-20 times before I saw any weaknesses in the wood. In same cases, I never saw any cracks at all. I’d just swing and swing and suddenly the wood would split.
God used my novel wood splitting attempts to teach me about prayer.
In prayer, we often take one swing at the big, hairy audacious request we have before God, and when nothing happens, we quit. We stop praying.
But that’s a terrible mistake. Just because we don’t see something happening doesn’t mean it isn’t.
When you’re praying for things like physical healing, the freeing of a captive, the restoring of a relationship, the breaking of a generational curse and/or deliverance from demonic oppression, you can’t expect a one-swipe prayer to get it done.
When Jesus said, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29), he meant seasons of prayer, lifestyle prayer, soaking prayer. This is why both Testaments of the Bible urge us to be vigilant and unceasing in our prayers. God commanded us to “give him no rest” (Isaiah 62:7) until he does all that he promised.
So to all you weary intercessors out there, I offer this encouragement: God is working. Your prayers are being heard. Stay at it. You may not see the cracks in the wood yet, but they’re forming. Keep swinging in prayer. Keep pounding away at Heaven. You are not wearying God. He’s honored by your persistence.
And he will come through.
One cold night last week, my family and I sat by the warmth of our cabin’s massive fireplace, burning logs that I had split earlier that day. It was really gratifying.
Imagine how it will feel to hug that addict who is now free, or to play hoops with the kid who previously couldn’t walk, or to enjoy the sweetness of repentance and relational reconciliation, or to baptize that person who you helped pray into the Kingdom.
It’s worth the wait and the work. Keep swinging.