A cartridge of ammunition that is fired from a gun is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “a bullet.” Yet the bullet is the part of the cartridge that achieves the goal – traveling through the air toward its target. I’d like to propose that prayer is much like a bullet; intended to penetrate a target in order to have fulfilled its truest purpose.
Guns and ammo are a hot topic these days. Few people have tame opinions on them. Some are already offended I’ve even brought them up. Others are hoping I spend the whole devotional on them. I don’t intend to weigh in one way or the other here – but rather to repurpose this divisive topic. So whether you’re excited because you’re a gun enthusiast or nervous because you can’t stand them – stick with me here. I think our God is uniquely suited to take an item whose primary purpose is to kill or wound, and use it for life.
The picture of a cartridge here is actually very important. Take a quick look.
The Wikipedia entry is helpful:
Although the word “bullet” is often used incorrectly in colloquial language to refer to a cartridge round, a bullet is not a cartridge but rather a component of one. A round of ammunition cartridge is a combination package of the bullet (1 above – which is the projectile), the case (2 above – which holds everything together), the propellant (3 above – which provides the majority of the energy to launch the projectile) and the primer (5 above – which ignites the propellant).
Our prayers are not meant to be like cotton balls thrown by a child into an open field. We are called to pray with purpose, with specificity, with power – to pray prayers that we know confidently will find their target and achieve their purpose, though we may not always know the latter entirely.
There is no doubt that our prayers are meant for life, not death. That they are meant for connection, not finality. That they are meant for shaping and forming and changing things, not ending them. So in those ways, they are fundamentally not like a bullet.
But in the sense that Jesus teaches us to pray very specifically aimed toward Our Father, whose name is Holy – or in the call for the kingdom of God to become reality on Earth as it is in heaven – or in the sense that he calls us to forgive our debtors, not generically but specifically – or because the prayers of a righteous man or woman (made right by Jesus, not our own perfection) are powerful and effective – in all these ways, our prayers are to be very much like a bullet.
When, in contrast, we pray flimsy, soft, unbelieving prayers we should not be surprised when they miss the mark entirely.
Rather, let us pray in a way that our faith ignites an explosion of the propellant – the Holy Spirit of God living in us – and carries our words directly to the throne of the Almighty Father. We might be surprised if we started to pray more like a cartridge and less like a cotton ball.
Grace and Peace,
“Storytelling is one of the greatest gifts we can offer one another and John masterfully tells the story of awakening and becoming, getting his hands dirty and doing good in a world that is so troubled. May we all learn to tell the truest truths, so that we can build the kind of world we long to inhabit.”
– Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD, Author, Activist Theology