Twenty Seconds

Twenty Seconds

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Twenty seconds seems like a short time, yet it is sufficient to kill viruses and microbes from your hands with thorough handwashing. Thus, when the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic began, we were inundated with public service announcements that asked us to wash our hands to stop the spread. Again, it seems like a small step to achieve a beneficial result, but it is effective. 

Twenty seconds is also the time required to receive health benefits from a hug. For example, a study conducted in 2003 found that twenty seconds spent in a warm embrace increased oxytocin levels and decreased cortisol levels. 1, 2 Oxytocin is also known as the “love drug,” “love hormone,” and “cuddle hormone.” 3 Believe it or not, the primary function of oxytocin is to facilitate childbirth by causing uterine contractions. However, within adults, especially for a couple, it increases feelings of attachment.  

As a cautionary note, we might cite this to instruct our youth to limit their physical contact with their dates before marriage since the creation of oxytocin can blur the lines between true, agape love and eros love. As oxytocin is considered a “feel-good hormone,” parents should guide their offspring to create it instead through singing with a group and exercise.Otherwise, like with any drug, one might seek it out just for the pleasant feelings it brings without considering the complications.  

But what of our spiritual lives? What can twenty seconds do to help that? I did an experiment using the Lord’s model prayer to find out. First, using the NaturalReader Dotcom website, I copied and pasted the text from Matthew 6.9-13 from different Bible translations. Next, I selected a variety of A.I. voices offered by the website, both American and British. Then, I used a stopwatch to see how long it took for the computer-generated voice to read the text. You might be surprised to learn that the model prayer only took 21 to 28 seconds to read. However, when I removed the final sentence that some academics say is missing from the various manuscripts consulted to create modern English translations, the reading time was between 18 and 20 seconds.  

Paul tells us that we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.17). Unfortunately, our prayer lives may suffer because we think we must dedicate a lot of time to pray and thus cannot find time for it within our busy schedules. Yet Jesus shows us that we can say a prayer encompassing most of our needs with about twenty seconds! What often “pads out” our prayers are the needed expressions of thanksgiving and the petitions we lift on behalf of others. But when confronted by temptation or needing to check our temper, twenty seconds of prayer might make the crucial difference.  

Consider this a friendly public service announcement for Christians. It only takes twenty seconds to clean your heart and deepen your love for God.   

Sources Cited 

1  Alloway, Tracy. “What 20 Seconds of Hugging Can Do for You.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 19 Jan. 2022,www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/keep-it-in-mind/202201/what-20-seconds-hugging-can-do-you.  

2   Grewen, Karen M, et al. “Warm partner contact is related to lower cardiovascular reactivity.” Behavioral medicine (Washington, D.C.) vol. 29,3 (2003): 123-30. doi:10.1080/08964280309596065 

3  Watson, Stephanie. “Oxytocin: The Love Hormone.” Harvard Health, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 20 July 2021,www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/oxytocin-the-love-hormone

4  Ibid. 

We Don’t Know How To Pray

We Don’t Know How To Pray

Wednesday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

carl pic

Carl Pollard

When I take the time to pause and think about who God is, it blows my mind. He’s all powerful, loving, righteous, faithful, and just. When we look at His character and the perfection that surrounds Him, it can almost seem overwhelming. A God with that much power and glory takes the time to listen to me. He hears the prayers that each of us pray.

If you’re like me, this can be very intimidating. Every time we bow our heads and pray, we are talking to the creator of worlds, the one that spoke everything we see and know into existence. We pause and reach out to God, and He listens to us. The creator listens to the cries of His creation. What a wonderful God we serve.

On our own we could never reach out to God and build our relationship with Him. We lie, cheat, steal, and lust after that which is darkness. God is the Father of light, and darkness cannot be found near Him. But God gave us a way to be justified, a way to petition Him and strengthen our Father to Son relationship.

Have you ever struggled with prayer? Maybe we fail to understand the tremendous blessing that it is. Maybe we fail to set time aside each day to talk with God. Maybe we feel like we aren’t holy enough to pray to God. Or maybe we feel like we don’t know how to pray.

Many Christians already know that it’s important to pray. We’ve heard that prayer is vital in the Christian walk. Thing is, we don’t know how to pray. And there are three main reasons why this is the case.

We are weak. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Paul uses the word “likewise” which tells us that what he is about to say is tied to what he has just mentioned. And so we must ask, what weakness is Paul referring to? In context, the earth is made weak because of sin (18-22). We ourselves have been made weak because of sin (23-25). Therefore since we are not strong, the Spirit helps us pray to God, even in our current state of weakness.

We pray for the wrong things. Continuing on in verse 26, “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought…” James tells us something similar in 4:3. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” We have a tendency to pray for the wrong things, and this ties directly into our weakness. We are weak because we pray for the wrong things. We say things like, “take this problem away” instead of saying “help me to use this problem to grow my faith.” We pray for things like, money, physical blessings, and selfish desires. We don’t know how to pray.
We confuse our will with God’s, and expect Him to change His mind and agree with us. We fail to see God’s perfect plan. We are short-sighted and selfish in our prayers. Because of this, we are weak and don’t know how to pray.

We use the wrong words. The last part of verse 26 says, “but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” “Intercede”, “to plead on behalf of another.” We may be weak, we may ask for the wrong things, but the Spirit pleads to God on our behalf. It should be a comfort knowing that one of the Godhead helps us in our prayers to God. Paul gives the Spirit a unique description. He says the Spirit “intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” When I hear the word “groan” I think of the sound I make when I eat too much food. Or the sound someone makes when their football team fumbles the ball. This word groan is far from this. It means “an involuntary expression of great concern or stress.” The concern that the Spirit has for us is so strong that it cannot be described with words. When we go before the throne of God, we are using the wrong words. There is no way that we can express to God what we feel. The Spirit then intercedes (pleads) on our behalf, expressing so great a concern, that words cannot be used to describe it.

We may not know how to pray, but God in His perfect love has provided for His Children. What an awesome God we serve.

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