Fight or Flight
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Fight or Flight
Stress can trigger a "fight or flight" response, but the Bible reveals a way to lean into the stress and overcome this response: a prayer for the bold.
[Darris McNeely] There's a well-known phrase called fight or flight. What it is, is the description of the stress that is released whenever we get into a very difficult situation, where tense pressures come upon us, whatever it might be, and we're either going to lean into it and fight, or we're going to flee. Fight or flight, it's a well-known syndrome, and the body's reaction to it is well-documented, and there's ways by which we can deal with that in order to alleviate the stress that is caused to the body as a result of that.
There's a principle of prayer from scripture that I think that can help us to understand how to, in a sense, lean into certain situations that are stressful, that come our way, dealing with life, and it's in a story from the fourth chapter of the Book of Acts, where the early church is under its first strains of persecution from the Jewish authorities. Peter and John are called before the Jewish authorities because of their healing of a lame man, and the preaching that they do as a result. The Jewish authorities essentially say, "Stop doing this." They say, "We can't do but what we are called to do, which is to preach the name of Jesus Christ and the gospel, and that way by which that man was healed." And so the disciples, Peter and John leave, they go back, and it says they report to their companions, their fellow church members, what has happened to them. And the church then gets into what is a prayer, beginning in verse 23 of Acts chapter 4, and it's really a prayer for the bold. It is a bold prayer, it's asking for boldness, and frankly, it can help you and I when we are in a stressful, challenging situation. When a trial hits, fight or flight, what do we do? What should we do? Here's what they did.
They said, as they lifted their voice up to God, in this prayer they said, "Lord, you are God. You who have made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them..." They focused their mind on the greatness of God, His creation and His power. They say, "Who by the mouth of your servant, David, has said, 'Why do the nations rage, the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, against His Christ.'" And so, that's what was taking place at that time. We might not have authorities down our neck at a certain time, but again, the stress can be very real and very bad. And so in verse 27, they say, "For truly against your Holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done." And then they said this, verse 29, "Now, Lord, look on their threats. Grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word by stretching out your hand to heal, that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your Holy Servant, Jesus." End of prayer.
They didn't ask to be relieved of the stress, they didn't pray for release, they prayed for boldness. They said, give us help to deal with this, and we'll continue on. We'll lean into the fight, and we'll stay doing what we're supposed to do.
Dealing with the stresses that come up, learning to pray to God and to take His word for what it means, and to understand that the God of all creation is behind us, then we can have that boldness to make our request, to make our petition, to pray for whoever, whatever we might need, but we don't run, we don't take flight. It's a prayer for the bold, and it's what they did in the early church, and it can help us to deal with that stress. Be bold in that prayer, any prayer, as we take it to God, whatever our problems might be.
That's "BT Daily." Join us next time.