Driving to the office this morning, along a rural country lane towards the town, a family of deer chose their moment to leap through the hedgerow and cross the road in front of the car. The first three made it, then the smaller deer skidded and swerved to a stop by the side of the road as I did likewise in the car! There was no collision, and all six deer hurried on their way, our admiring glances at their beauty and poise lost on them as they disappeared into the opposite foliage.
When we come to prayer, we have many purposes and motives in mind. Breakthrough, healing, momentum. All good and rightly sought after. However, the encounter with the deer reminded me of a comment by E M Bounds, which emphasises the place of protection and comfort in our prayer.
Bounds tells this story in his book, The Necessity of Prayer:
'Rising early one morning I heard the barking of a number of dogs chasing deer. Looking at a large open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making it's way across the field and giving signs that it's race was almost run. It leaped over the rails of the enclosed place and crouched within ten feet of where I stood.
A moment later, two of the hounds came over, and the fawn ran in my direction and pushed it's head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. Just then I felt that all the dogs in the west would not and could not capture that fawn after it's weakness had appealed to my strength. SO it is when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God.'
What a thought, that in the moment of our fear and headlight staring paralysis, the very strength and protection of God is released and secured for us! What an idea, that the weak and startled disciple, who doesn't know which way to turn, might be swept up into the arms of one who is stronger, into the heart of one who cares and acts!
May this picture of the deer cause us to run into the protective place of prayer, individually and corporately. May we find the one who laughs in the face of our fears, and sweeps us out of troubles and into his purposes as we hide ourselves in him.