"And behold two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus...and they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. Jesus Himself approached and began travelling with them...And He said to them, 'What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?'...One of them...answered Him and said, 'Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of these things which have happened here in these days.' And He said to them, 'What things?'" Luke 24:13-35
There is a huge difference between talking and praying. Talk loses perspective in the white water rapids of a rocky river turning it into foaming flow of perpetual whine. The process of talking oneself through a crisis never ends well. It usually provides more hot air that expands and thickens the fog of confusion. Prayer clears the air and places the outcome of the crisis into the hands of the only one who can make sense out of it.
When the two disciples walked the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they were on a downhill slide, geographically and spiritually. They had been witnesses to a very emotionally draining and defeating experience. "These things which had taken place" were filled with the drama and trauma that included the betrayal, arrest, trial, scourging, death march and crucifixion of their friend, Jesus. All their hopes and dreams had been crushed under the heavy hand of religious bureaucracy, and the clenched fist of Roman authority. They were in no mood for chit chat and not inclined to suffer fools gladly.
"Jesus Himself approached and began travelling with them" serves as a reminder that He does not wait to be invited to a crisis. He shows up to make sense out of it. These victims were overwhelmed by defeat, but they were only a breath away from The Victor over death, hell and the grave. Talking among themselves had left them breathless and hopeless. Talk is never cheap if it costs a person the breath of life. Prayer is the breath of Heaven. It provides fresh air for the journey and hope for the destination.
Jesus knows the difference between talking an praying. Notice how He gently elbowed His way into the conversation these two people were having about their crisis. "What are these words which you are exchanging with one another?" They had been talking to one another for seven miles, but no closer to Jesus than when they had started. Talk leaves a victim out of step with Jesus, and on a slippery slope to despair. Prayer transforms despair into desperation. It turns a crisis over to Jesus, and He reveals God's direction, protection and correction.
When Jesus elbowed into their independent lecture series on their crisis, He was attempting to get them to talk to Him, not about Him. This shift in priorities provoked one of the distraught disciples to spit back sarcastically, "Are you the only one...unaware of these things which have happened here in these days?" It was not very prayerful, but it was natural. Prolonged pain poisons a person's heart and sharpens their tongue into a viper's sting.
Rather than take offense at the remark, Jesus responded, "What things?" Now that His elbow had broken up their discussion among themselves, He wanted them to pour out their pain filled heart to Him. What flowed out was a laundry list of past offenses. They were so focused on the past that they were unable to see Jesus in the present. Prayer puts intimidated people and circumstances in the proper perspective. Those who are intimate with God are seldom intimidated by anything or anyone else. Jesus heard them out, and then reminded them of the promises in the Word of God. When he had finished, He had made sense out of what had happened to them.
"It is amazing what God can do with a broken heart if you give Him all the pieces." Samuel Chadwick
After Jesus completed His walk through the Scriptures, Luke's account records that He acted as if He would go farther down the road. With a fire in their heart ignited by their companion, the disciples strongly urged Him, "Stay with us!"
What initially felt like an intruding elbow had become a helping hand. Jesus chose to stay with them and share a meal. As He blessed the bread, they saw Him as The Risen Christ. They couldn't wait to get back up hill, the seven miles to Jerusalem, to let the rest of the disciples know, Jesus is alive. Prayer will do that every time. Prayer resurrects hope by taking the worst thing that can happen to a person and placing it in the hands of The One who can make the best out of it.
When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He told his disciples to go to Jerusalem, and to wait and pray for The Promise of the Father. Ten days later in an upper room, 120 people were filled with the Holy Spirit. Moments later the church was birthed through the power of Spirit-filled preaching.
The church was never designed to function without prayer. It began in the climate of prayer and will always be breathless without it. The voice of a prayerless church will become a faint whisper that is easily shouted down by the enemy. Prayer is the breath of Heaven and the hope of the church. Without unceasing and life-giving prayer, the church will never thrive, nor will it even survive.
The Holy Spirit of Christ now lives to give the church "The Elbow." He encourages the church individually and corporately to give God elbow room in the middle of any and every crisis. Prayer turns Impossible into HIMpossible by overwhelming the big "I" with "HIM." Take a deep breath and TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!
BTW: If you liked "The Tebow" you are going to love "The Elbow."