Wings of Prayer
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
~ Matthew 23:37
[B]ut those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; . . .
~ Isaiah 40:31
The Bible uses wings as a metaphor in many places; it is especially popular among Old Testament writers, and they use them in two different ways. The more common image, recited by Christ in the quote from Matthew, is as an image of protection: a hen and its chicks is a very famous image representing how the Lord would protect Jerusalem. And one often sees an eagle or cherubim hovering over a person who worships the Lord. In fact, the most sacred image in Judaism, the Ark of the Covenant, was most clearly visually defined by statues of two cherubim on its cover, facing inward, with great wings folded forward over the contents of the Ark.
The other use of wings is not one of protection, but one of freedom. We will soar on our wings like eagles, Isaiah tells us, and what could possibly be more heartening than the idea of flying free and strong and proud, like the greatest of all birds? But this is the promise of prayer. We become one with the Spirit within us and we free ourselves of our worries, our sins, our entire mortal existence. To fly like an eagle is to taste heaven during our life.
We are not going to escape pain and tribulation during our lives; in fact, as Christ and Paul both point out again and again, the mortal life of a Christian is filled with persecution and tribulation. But the Holy Spirit will free us from the pain, in prayer, if we take the time to ask. We will not know heaven until Christ comes for us, but we can taste of it. Christ will give us a moment to be free of all our trials; He has not abandoned us, but sent the Holy Spirit to us — as a teacher and guide, but also as a Comforter, to give us rest when the weary daily tribulations of life, or even an extraordinary painful event, seem like they will overwhelm us.
Turn to Jesus in your pain, no matter how terrible it may be, and He will give you wings that will send you away from every evil of life. It is our greatest power while on earth, the power to call upon the Holy Spirit for His comfort and freedom.
Lord, be with me in times of trouble and lift me with thy wings. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer