My husband is a veteran Navy man. Something I have learned about his time in the military is that the Navy has a whole vocabulary unto themselves. They have literally invented new words. Some are not appropriate for anyone to hear, but others are a useful tool to draw attention to concepts that every person should know and understand.
If you lived on a Navy ship, you would get used to seeing large ropes wound back and forth in a symmetrical pattern on the deck. Seeing them there, you would understand that an operation is soon to be performed using those ropes, and they are in readied position, tangle-free, to be utilized with ease.
Most often, these ropes are tied to an anchor and are also what sailors use to firmly hold their ship to port. As such, they are called “mooring lines.” I recently heard a pastor refer to the sound teaching of the Bible as our mooring line. As long as we hold fast to the truth of the gospel, false doctrines will not set us adrift from the safety of God’s presence. The gospel provides us with our port, our moorings.
Those hefty mooring lines have another important role in a sailor’s life. Especially back when ships were made of wood, vulnerable ships were wrapped round and round with the ropes in order to preserve them. This process, in nautical terms, is called frapping. Frapping a ship helped to reinforce the structure and give more support when the waves of storms beat upon them. Frapping helps to keep the ship from breaking up and sinking.
In Acts, chapter 27, verses 14 and following, the apostle Paul was on a ship that encountered a great storm.
“14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, 17 so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together.”
Paul’s ship was frapped, or in more common terms, it was undergirded.
So what does that have to do with you and with me? Prayer is our frapping. As we spend time seeking God, exalting Him, asking for His will above our own, laying our needs before Him, promoting others, and inviting His involvement in the daily turn of this world, our lives are undergirded by His grace. Jesus is our greatest example of a man who prayed, often and for excessive periods of time, laying his burdens before His Father and listening for daily direction, and Jesus was God in flesh! If he needed to spend time with his Father in prayer, how much more do we?
Paul’s ship sank, but he was a man of prayer. The frapping lines were not enough to hold that ship together, for as he told the sailors in verse 21, “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.
now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”
Just as Jesus was strengthened by an angel when he cried out to his Father before his crucifixion, Paul was reassured by God to stay the course because God’s plans are greater than our circumstances. When our lives are well frapped, we can walk in God’s favor, even in the fray, and our position in Christ brings favor to those around us. We have to be willing to speak truth, and we can when we are relying on our Father for all our provision.
“42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.”
See how God turned the hearts of the soldiers, and His promise was kept?
Prayer keeps our hearts in step with God’s desires for us. It keeps us mindful of His hands that hold us, and it encompasses all those things that are placed within our influence. It doesn’t take the place of God’s Word in our lives, but works in tandem with it: Anchored to the Truth, and held by His will.
I believe that prayer is the vehicle through which repentance will come to these times, and out of repentance will come the revival that so many of us long to witness.
Let us pray!