Pastor’s Pen: You don’t have to stand on your head to pray

Rev Mark Niblock.
Rev Mark Niblock.
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By Rev Mark Niblock

A man who had recently joined a church was out for a walk one night when he tripped and fell head first into a hole in the road.

Trapped upside down, his arms pinned by his sides, his legs sticking straight up in the air, he called for help for what seemed like hours, but no one came.

He could feel the panic rising within him as he imagined spending the rest of the night in this uncomfortable position.

Just as despair took hold he remembered that there was one thing he hadn’t tried. Closing his eyes, he prayed: “Lord, please help me out of this hole I’m in!” Immediately he heard a vehicle stop and felt strong arms around his ankles pulling him out to safety.

Flooded with relief and gratitude the man wasted no time in taking his story back to his church and telling them of how his prayer had been answered instantly. As the other church members sat enthralled at this exciting tale, the man concluded: “So, if you want God to answer your prayers, you need to pray while standing on your head.”

There’s a lot of this kind of talk in religious circles, thinking that our way is THE WAY, that we alone are right and we alone hold the keys to the kingdom.

Locally and internationally we can see the shameful consequences of this thinking.

The Christian church calls this time of year Lent. Sometimes we give up stuff we like or take up stuff we don’t.

Maybe something good to give up is thinking we alone are right, and something to take up is learning a more generous opinion of the different religious views of others. We may even learn something valuable or make a friend of a stranger. But at least we won’t feel we need to stand on our heads to be doing it right.