It’s a busy world.
It’s a chaotic world.
It’s a desperate world.
Sometimes it’s a scary world.
The last few weeks we’ve been confronting medical tests for possible cancer diagnoses for two family members. In the midst of this, the world seems ever bent on tearing itself apart right in front of us. Even everyday life stuff seems bigger lately. And I’ll be honest, I’ve been a little harried emotionally and spiritually.
At a women’s bible study last week our group leader talked about “sisterhood” and how we need our sisters in faith. She confessed that whenever someone asks her how she is, her patent answer is, “I’m fine” even when she isn’t.
And I cried because I wasn’t fine. I was so NOT fine.
Anxiety has been bubbling up into the place in my heart where it used to permanently reside. Anxiety that used to be my close friend and confidante. Anxiety that, for me, is like a tricky enemy courting me when I least expect it and leading me into dangerous, faithless territory.
There’s one sure way to keep the enemy from burrowing in, and that’s by handing everything to Jesus. But sometimes it isn’t that easy…
Last Sunday morning was like any other and while eating breakfast my husband and I listened to a sermon on television. I can’t now even remember what the person said, but I began to think of how I pray. And I realized, almost despondently, that I’ve been missing something important.
I have a routine, a method, a recipe for most of my prayers. Like many of us, I hit my knees (mentally or figuratively) when I need something. Facing a crisis. Having a bad day. In trouble and want to get out of it. Someone I love is sick or hurting. I go through my prayers sometimes like I’m placing an order at the drive-through. Don’t get me wrong. I’m honest with those needs. They are real. They are devastating. Some of them are ripping me apart inside.
Yet even after prayer…
The anxiety is still there.
The problem doesn’t go away.
The mountain still needs to be climbed.
What is it I’m missing?
It’s simple really…
I am missing HOPE.
We use the word hope a lot these days.
“Oh, I hope you get that new job you’re wanting.”
“I sure hope it warms up soon.”
“We were hoping for a miracle.”
You see, like most things we’ve managed to twist the word hope into something different. For most of us hope is more like a wish. Something we’d like to happen but in many cases don’t believe will. The urban dictionary says: “Hope is the opposite of despair” which is close but not exactly right either.
The Red Rope
In Hebrew, one word for hope is tikvah, defined as “strong expectation.” Not a wish or a longing. But expectation. The belief that a need will be met, a prayer will be answered.
Tikvah also traces back to the verb qavah which means “to gather into strength.” And this is fascinating because another meaning of the word tikvah is rope or cord… strands gathered into strength.
In the story of Rahab the woman who hid the spies of Joshua from the King of Jericho, the bible says she let them down from her window and told them to hide for three days before coming back. In return, she asked them to spare her family. The spies said to her:
We will not be bound by this oath you made us swear unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother and brothers and all your family into your house.Joshua 2:17-18
In the early translation of this passage, the word used for cord was tikvah.
A scarlet cord.
And so Rahab tied the scarlet cord into the window and when Jericho was destroyed, her family was spared.
She put the cord there with the confident hope of salvation.
Just as the Israelites put the blood of a lamb on their doors in the confident hope of salvation at the time of the Passover.
Just as we put confident hope in our salvation when surrender to be bathed in the blood of Christ.
And that’s how I realized my prayers have become hollow. My recipe was missing a key ingredient. I didn’t have hope. I hadn’t bound my words, my needs, my fears and anxieties in the scarlet cord.
Prayer in Strength
But a cord isn’t just one strand. As the verb qavah means “gather” into strength, the scarlet cord should be made up of many strands… the gathering of prayers filled with the confident hope that can be found in Christ. That’s why our prayers–our true and honest prayers–are stronger when our brothers and sisters pray with us. The gathering of hope makes us stronger in faith.
It’s time for me to get on my knees with intention and confidence. That’s why I’ve created the Red Rope Prayer Journal. This prayer journal is just one strand among many. My prayers written on these pages will join your prayers, the strands of my brothers and sisters in Christ. And I ask that at the end of each prayer you remember those brothers and sisters and tie their prayers with yours, binding them in the red cord of hope that Christ promises all of us, in all seasons of life.
Will you please pray with me? Will you let me pray for you? Will you pray for me?
Your Red Rope Prayer Journal
You can get a FREE downloadable version of the Red Rope Prayer Journal just for subscribing to the “Faith in your Inbox” newsletter HERE. (If you’re already subscribed, don’t worry. You won’t be added to another list, but you can get the free gift!)
If you’d like you can also purchase a paperback or hardback version of the journal HERE.
As a special thank you for purchasing the paperback or hardback version, I’m offering a special “Red Rope Bookmark” to the first 10 people who make the purchase. All you have to do to get your free gift is forward your receipt or proof of purchase to email@example.com.
Join me as I write out my fears, my anxieties, my despair, and my intentions, laying them at the altar of the one who called us His own.
Let’s bind our prayers together with the red rope of true, biblical hope.