Have you either heard of or even stayed at an Airbnb? If so, you may be glad to hear that Airbnb recently launched a new program called “Airbnb Adventures.” According to a profile in Travel + Leisure magazine, guests can “choose from more than 200 trips across six continents… [you can] jet off to Brazil and spend nine days boating and trekking to a village in the Amazon rainforest… [or] hike up a rocky hillside in Estes Park, Colorado, then spend the night suspended 200 feet in the air.”
Why is Airbnb offering these outlandish options? According to Joe Zadeh, the director of the program, travelers desire “transformational travel,” defined as “taking people into new communities–places off the beaten path. We find that when you do get pushed out of your comfort zone, you come back not having checked off a bunch of landmarks, but in some ways, have become a slightly different person.”
Now, I love to travel, and I love adventures. I have stayed at a few Airbnb places and enjoyed them. That said, no disrespect to Airbnb, but you don’t have to go to the Amazon rainforest or hang on a cliff ledge to have a transformational experience. According to the Holy Scriptures, what transforms us is encountering the presence of the living God. And we encounter God’s presence through prayer. The Bible shows us it is the presence of God, experienced in prayer and worship that transforms the follower of Jesus Christ.
If that is true, what is prayer? I define prayer as “conversing with God the Father (Matt 6L5-13) through the Son (John 14:14 “ask in my name”) in the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9–27; Eph 6:18). It involves speaking and listening, praise, petition, and silence.” Ultimately, prayer is about cultivating a relationship with the triune God. Any good relationship is a mutual, two-way street, a give-and-take endeavor.
If you seek to grow in prayer, watch out! God will sometimes move in exciting and unanticipated ways!
Here are some examples:
After Moses met with God, “his face was radiant,” and the Israelites were “afraid to come near him.” So Moses had to put “a veil over his face” (Exodus 34:29–35).
Joshua, who followed Moses as the leader of Israel, prayed, and the sun stood still in the sky for a full day, allowing the Israelites to rout their wicked enemies (Joshua 10).
Elisha, the prophet prayed that God would open the eyes of his servant. God showed Elisha’s servant the heavenly host surrounding the city of Dothan, much larger than the visible and intimidating Aramean army (2 Kings 6). The Israelites were not surrounded by the Arameans as much as God’s angels surrounded the Arameans!
Jesus taught our prayers could cast out demons (Mark 9:14–29).
When Jesus prayed to his Heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, God gave him the grace to continue his mission and endure the cross (Luke 22:39–46).
When the disciples prayed fervently after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost (Acts 1–2).
Acts 4 describes how the Sadducees attempted to muzzle the disciples from sharing the gospel in Jerusalem by jailing them and interrogating them. However, the physician Luke (the author of Acts), states this: “When they [the religious leaders] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Nonetheless, they “commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). However, the Christians community prayed for “great boldness” and “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:23–31).
The bottom line: engaging the presence of the living God through prayer transforms us. It changes our hearts and oftentimes our circumstances.
What does your prayer life look like right now? Are you praying individually? With your family? And with other Christians regularly?
Perhaps God is calling you on an adventure. Not an Airbnb adventure, but a real adventure, a prayer adventure. You don’t have to travel anywhere or pay any money to encounter the living God. Why not start today?