Mark S. Mitchell

Pastor, Writer, Follower of Jesus


Rivulets of the Soul

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD.
Each morning I will bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

Psalm 5:3

I have found that there is nothing more important and more difficult in my relationship with Christ than developing a robust prayer life. But as crucial as it is, I have also found that guilt is a substandard motivation for prayer. Recently, I discovered a way of thinking about prayer that helps me want to pray.

I’m slowly working my way through Ben Patterson’s book on praying the Psalms: God’s Prayer Book: The Power and Pleasure of Praying the Psalms. In his comments on Psalm 5, he tells a story about a man named Jack Sanford who looks back fondly on his childhood visits to the old family farmhouse in New Hampshire. There was an old well in the front yard. The water from the well was surprisingly pure and cold. No matter how hot the summer or severe the drought, the well was always a dependable source of refreshment. As Jack grew older, he often thought of that faithful old well, but eventually the farmhouse was modernized with indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water. The old well was no longer needed and sealed shut.

Years later, Jack returned to the farmhouse and found himself longing for the cold, pure water of his youth. So he unsealed the well and lowered a bucket for a taste of the refreshment he once enjoyed. But he was shocked to find that the well had gone bone dry. He wondered what had happened and so he began to ask several of the locals. He finally learned that wells of that sort are fed by hundreds of tiny underground rivulets. As long as water is consistently being drawn from the well, new water will flow in through the rivulets, keeping them open so that more water can flow. But when the water stops flowing, the rivulets get plugged up with mud and the flow stops. It turns out the well dried up not because it was used too much but because it wasn’t used enough.

Ben writes, “Our souls are like that well. If we do not draw regularly and frequently on the living water that Jesus promised would well up in us like a spring, our hearts will close and dry up. The consequence of not drinking deeply of God is to eventually lose the ability to drink at all. Prayerlessness is its own worst punishment, both its disease and cause.”

What a great encouragement this is to persevere in a life of disciplined prayer. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Like King David, I want to keep the water flowing, and perhaps the most important thing to do in accomplishing that is to just keep showing up.