Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?

September 5th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?

By Rev. Susan Wilmot, Guest Writer

Facing life’s challenges can feel overwhelming and terrifying. As well as being part of a loving and healthy worship community, there are also practical spiritual disciplines that can help us to stay grounded when life throws us curve balls.

This month we’re going to use a Scriptural story of victory and a visioning prayer to help us, especially if we feel helpless or hopeless, or unable to climb over the obstacle in our life, or knock down the wall. We’re looking to experience Christ’s way to keep moving forward, either around or despite the obstacle or challenge we’re facing.

The fundamental principle here is that “we can, with God’s help”, which implicitly means that we’ll fail to make progress if we’re trying to do this in our own strength, or through our own ingenuity or guile. One of the hardest lessons we all learn in our lives of faith is to trust God and become ever more dependent on God for all our needs.

Prayer is central to opening ourselves to receive God’s help and direction. I know this is a powerful approach to spiritual growth and healing, but please don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself!

As a basis for seeing the power of prayer in action we’re going to take a close look at the story of the fall of Jericho found in Joshua 5:13-6:20.

While Joshua exceeds the Lord’s specific mandate in capturing the city, the story forms a useful basis for imagining or visioning the walls, obstacles or challenges that we all face in life.

Those challenges can be health, relationship, work, and family, financial, spiritual or emotional issues. Or these might be areas of our lives which we’ve walled off, or decided to retain control of for ourselves. They are the dark rooms of our hearts with locked doors. They are immovable or rigid ways of thinking.

They may be memories we’re trying to bury, secrets we’re ashamed of, or anything we’ve marked as “out of bounds” to God’s healing love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.

It took seven days (a powerful divine number of wholeness or completion) for the walls of Jericho to come tumbling down. It took persistence, courage and obedience on the part of Joshua and the Israelite army to resist the temptation to conquer Jericho their own way.

Take at least seven days to envision your challenge, wall or obstacle. Place that picture firmly in your mind’s eye and then during your daily prayers for six days silently walk around that image. As Elijah and all God’s faithful people can attest (see 1 Kings 19:11-13) God is most present to us in silence, which is why centering prayer, meditation and silence are so important to our spiritual well-being.

Just as Joshua followed God’s command, on the seventh day, see yourself walking around the image of your challenge, wall or obstacle seven times, and then shout to the Lord. Your cries are a prayer to the One who has the power to change our lives, to heal us, and to help us according to our true needs, as only God knows our hearts and minds.

As you pray each day, don’t be disturbed if the image changes. Just follow God’s lead, because sometimes what we think is our biggest challenge or obstacle is only a symptom of a deeper underlying issue.

As in all things, God’s timing is perfect. If there appears to be no resolution or answer to your prayers in seven days, then the real lesson may be to demonstrate your trust, faith and obedience to the Lord by continuing your prayers and visioning.

Only God knows when we’re ready to receive the gift of healing and mercy. Only God knows when we’re ready to set aside our wants and desires, and accept God’s will for our lives. Only God can put in place all the necessary elements for our wholeness, spiritual growth and well-being.

That’s why God’s timing is perfect.

When all’s said and done, this is just one practical way to pray. If God seems to be sending you in a different direction or form of prayer, then go with it! While each of our stories will be unique, this experience of openness and vulnerability, of trust, faith and obedience to God will undoubtedly bless us in a multitude of ways, including an amazing story of faith in Christ to share with others.

Perhaps your story will save or change someone else’s life for the better. One thing is for sure, our faith and our prayers make a difference. Here’s a final thought from Corrie ten Boom: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”

-The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot is Vicar at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church & Preschool, 975 E. Warner Rd., Tempe. Susan can be reached at or at 480-345-2686. Check out our website at