In some of the old TV Westerns of the 1950s, the desperados (always in black hats) would be making their escape with the stolen loot from the stagecoach robbery. Suddenly someone in the posse chasing them (usually in white hats) would shout, "We have ’em now! They’ve ridden into a box canyon!" And everybody knows there is no way out of a box canyon.
There are box canyons in life too, seemingly impossible situations where there seems to be no way out and nowhere to turn. Surrounded by insurmountable obstacles, you find yourself temporarily paralyzed, not knowing what to do. Those are the very times when God invites us to pray.
In Acts 12, we find the story of how God took a tragic, even hopeless, situation and turned it around. It was accomplished by the power of prayer, the kind of prayer that storms the throne of God and gets an answer.
Both James and Peter were in prison. Tragically, James was put to death. But Peter was still incarcerated, awaiting his fate. Though all doors were closed, one remained open: the door of prayer. The church recognized that "we use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments" (2 Corinthians 10:4, NLT).
Prayer was and is the church’s secret weapon. Although the Devil struck a blow against the church, the church gained victory through prayer as Peter was miraculously released.
Sadly, we don’t pray often enough. Yet it is essential that Christians learn more about effective prayer because all of us will certainly face difficulties, hardships, problems, and more than a few box canyons. So we need to discover what God can do through the power of prayer.
Prayer for the Christian should be second nature, like breathing. We should automatically pray, lifting our needs and requests before the Lord. Jesus said that we should always pray and not lose heart (see Luke 18:1). Prayer is something we should never avoid and never grow tired of. Prayer should be woven through our day like a bright gold thread woven through a piece of fabric. The more we pray, the more we will see the kingdom of God break through the darkness of seemingly impossible situations.