The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

What Rock Climbing Can Teach us About Prayer

 Alicia BruxvoorttWelcome! I’m glad you’re here.  Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I hope you’ll stay a while.

If you like what you find, please sign up on the sidebar to receive my blog in your inbox now and then. Or find me on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll keep chasing Jesus together day by day.

Better yet, I’d love to connect with you in person. I’m scheduling speaking commitments for the remainder of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.  I’d  be delighted to join you at a special ministry event this year.

Over at Encouragement for Today, I’m wrestling with the question, “Does prayer really change anything?” If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, I hope you’ll hop over to P31’s website and be encouraged. 

But before you go, keep reading to learn how clinging to a rock fifty-feet above the Irish Sea taught me a powerful truth about prayer.  (Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for today’s give-away at the end of this post!)

********************************************************************************************************************************************************************* When I was college, I had the chance to study for six months at a small university in Carmarthen, Wales. While the whole experience was a priceless gift for a girl who had spent most of her life tucked between tall cornfields, one of my favorite parts of that semester abroad was a class called  “outdoor pursuits.”

For someone who counted walking around town with a Diet Coke and a chatty friend as a valid work out, this excursion-oriented class definitely challenged my definition of exercise. Every week, I was pushed far beyond my comfort zone both physically and mentally. I didn’t really know the meaning of the word “adventure” until I found myself kayaking across whirling waters, climbing mountains that reached for the sky, and crawling through dark wet caves with a headlamp and a prayer.

But of all the “pursuits” I  mustered the courage to try, my favorite one was rock climbing. While my climbing routes would have never been hailed by a true cragsman as dangerous or daring, for a small town girl from the Midwest plains, just scaling up the face of a rock that hovered heedlessly over the Irish Sea was an adrenaline rush, indeed.
coast-438392_640I can still remember standing at the bottom of the crag before I made my first ascent and staring straight up with a thumping heart. My only assignment  was to scramble to the top where my teacher waited, but from my place at the foot of the rock that long vertical climb looked daunting.

How was a girl to climb a rock using only age-old cracks and crevices to support her whole body? And how much help could an instructor offer a girl dangling from a ledge when he was a hundred feet above her looking no larger than a preschooler perched atop the playground monkey bars?

But my grade point (this was a college class, after all) and my pride were on the line, so I  stretched my arms to reach for the first handhold and I lifted my feet onto a slender shelf. I paused there, harnessed and roped, clutching the rock face like it were my saving grace. Then I glanced at the stone wall above me and scanned the area for another jug to grab. I spotted an easy hand-hold an arms-length away, and I carefully stretched to reach it.  Amazingly, I figured out where to place my feet and convinced my body to follow.

I snaked slowly up the cliff until I reached an impasse. And there, about halfway to the peak, I got stuck. I dug my fingers deep into the dusty stone and tried to ignore the nervous quaking in my legs. If I let my whole body give way to trembling, I might shake myself right off that scraggy rock.

Frantically, I looked for a new foothold to secure my next step, but the closest ledge was totally beyond my reach. From what my eyes could see, I was stuck fifty feet above the Irish Sea.

My trusty belayer below hollered encouragement, but cheers morphed into clamor as they waltzed with the wailing wind.
shore-336578_640Should I hang on or just give up and let go? I wondered.

I stared at the face of the crag in front of me once more, moved my eyeballs up and down the stony surface without moving my body. But I couldn’t spy a path out of my predicament. I heard the wild waters below me slapping against the jagged rocks, and an age-old song from Sunday School ran through my mind. “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand…”

My fingers ached. My legs trembled. I wanted to surrender my clasp and give up.

But instead, I clung to the rock and waited.

For what felt like an eternity (but was probably only a few minutes), I gripped the wall with a stubborn hope that my climb wasn’t over yet.

And, finally, I heard my instructor’s deep and imperious voice.

“Let go with your right hand and reach down a bit…”

Let go? I was holding on for dear life.

Reach down? My destination was up.

The plan seemed counterintuitive, but I followed my instructor’s command. Once I’d awkwardly shifted my hands, my feet somehow followed.

And  that small shift suddenly opened my eyes to a route I hadn’t seen before. My classmates buoyed me on with applause from the bottom the rock, and I steadily scrambled to the peak where my teacher greeted me with a slap on the back and a crooked smile.flat-earth-1054350_640

It’s been nearly two decades since I scaled the cliffs along the Irish Sea, but I’ve done my fair share of clinging in the years ever since.

Because rock climbing isn’t the only activity that lands us in STUCK places; life does that, too.

And lately, I’m learning that prayer demands the same kind of stubborn hope that I needed to scramble up that daunting crag.

After all, prayer isn’t a magic formula for instant success or a recipe for painless living. Prayer is an invitation to hang tight to our faith in the hard places and wait with expectancy.

In short, prayer is a decision to fasten our souls to our Sole Source of help.

In Psalm 63:8, King David writes:

My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. (NASB)

When David penned these words, he was hiding in the wilderness of Judah, on the run from a man who wanted him dead. In layman’s terms, he was STUCK.

But instead of panicking, this man after God’s own heart prayed.

 Psalm 63:8 is David’s stubborn declaration to cling instead of crumble. 

Because this shepherd boy turned King knew that prayer isn’t about clamoring for our way; it’s about clinging in hope until God reveals His way.

When David’s circumstances threatened to bring him down, he invited his Savior to hold him up.

And we are free to do the same.


If we read David’s story in the Old Testament, we discover that, in time, David was released from his stuck place.

God showed David a way out of the wilderness. And through him, the Lord established a kingdom that would never end.

It’s a story with a happy ending, but if we just focus on the ending, we miss the miracle in the middle.

Even before God changed David’s circumstances, David’s persistent prayers changed his outlook.

Read through Psalm 63 and see it for yourself–

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

From his desperate cries in the first verse to his joyful declarations of praise in the verses that follow, it’s clear that David experienced a change of heart.

Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
 I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.

 I lie awake thinking of you,
    meditating on you through the night.
 Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 63:3-7)

Clinging to WHO he knew God to be even when he couldn’t understand what God was doing gave David hope in the midst of his darkness, joy in the middle of his discouragement.

 And, perhaps, therein lies the great miracle of prayer–

Prayer doesn’t always instantly produce a way out, but prayer paves a path for God to come in.

Prayer may not immediately set us free from our circumstances, but it will always set us free to enjoy the Lord’s presence right in the midst of our wilderness.

 Because when we cling to the Rock of our Salvation, God doesn’t leave us dangling alone. He joins us where we are and holds us in His loving arms.


Today I am excited to give away a copy of one of my favorite tools for “clinging” to God’s word in prayer.

Beth Moore’s “Praying  God’s Word” is a power-packed resource for finding scripture to pray over your particular circumstances.

Whenever I find myself in a season of waiting and I pull out this book and pray expectantly through its pages.

If you’d like to enter to win a copy for yourself, please just leave a comment telling us how we can pray for you. Or if you don’t have time to share, just write, “CLINGING! A winner will be chosen by Friday, June 24.

Also, be sure to stop back tomorrow for a free printable that will help you pray through the “stuck places.”


56 thoughts on “What Rock Climbing Can Teach us About Prayer

    1. Stephanie Martin
    2. Joan Payne


      June 20, 2016 at 9:40 pm
  1. Sandra Kitchen
  2. Carhy

    Asking the question why pray at all is being asked from family members right now. I would love this book to share

    June 20, 2016 at 6:59 am
  3. Kim Wilson

    Darts are coming from every direction to the soft vulnerable places in my heart: my one and only child/ daughter leaving for college in a few weeks and is recovering now from major surgery from a week ago; husband of 30 years says he’s divorcing me a few weeks after she leaves for college and knowing that some Irish montain-like experiences are coming. But ……CLINGING!

    June 20, 2016 at 7:15 am
  4. Kathy w

    Good morning…I just witnessed this morning an awesome sunrise…they are breathtaking & I took pics of it….I pray for & hope for the good stuff everyday to keep happening & keep clinging…the sunrises..the cool crisp mornings..well it starts out cool @ least..& just thankful for another day.. !!!

    & then I pray for God to do his thing & makes things right again in this country….

    Have a blessed day ladies……kathy w

    To Kim Wison…above..I am sorry to hear about your struggles…I will say my favorite prayers..for you..
    My Hail Mary’s & Our Father’s….if I can help you in any way …reply on this site if you happen to come back to it…& I will include my e-mail..we can get in touch…..I am not an expert in/on anything…but I hate seeing people/couples hurting… of the couples from wives from church has already gone thru what you are now…& we were there for her…so…yell if you need me……

    June 20, 2016 at 7:33 am
  5. Teresa

    Loved your devotional on Proverbs 31 Ministries and your post here. This was much needed at this time for me. I was stuck in a rut and just needed to be reminded how awesome our God is. Thanks so much.

    June 20, 2016 at 7:33 am
  6. Jean

    Thank you for wonderfully sharing Gods wisdom with us!

    June 20, 2016 at 7:36 am
  7. Dawn Nunn

    Clinging! Like never before. I need your prayers for so many areas of my life, there is enough paper. Most importantly, a prayer that I won’t venture off from God and his Word, when my prayers go unanswered. Thank you

    June 20, 2016 at 7:48 am
  8. Vicki Westfall
  9. Mary Churchill

    I’m facing some major life decisions and am working on strengthening my prayer life because I know I can’t do it alone. I feel so lonely in so many ways. I need God.

    June 20, 2016 at 8:09 am
    1. You’ve got to be kidding me-it’s so transparently clear now!

      March 1, 2017 at 4:24 am
  10. Mary Beth

    I’ve often felt guilty that I cannot seem to find the words when praying. Your words give me hope that I can cling to the Lord without words and my prayer will be heard. Clinging!

    June 20, 2016 at 8:36 am
  11. Ali

    This was very timely! Its hard to wait and see how God is going to answer our prayers.

    June 20, 2016 at 8:40 am
  12. Ronda

    I am clinging to God, fiercely, as my husband and I are waiting on God in this season of waiting. This isn’t easy, but I feel that
    my relationship with God is strengthening.

    June 20, 2016 at 8:41 am
  13. Thank you my heart needed this today. I am clinging ginger to God and know he is right here in this hot mess we call life.

    June 20, 2016 at 8:42 am
  14. deanna metts

    I don’t know how to type it all out here…it seems like it would just be way too long for anyone’s time. But I’m really scared and Really Clinging as I wait for God to turn my whole life upside-down. Thank you for this post, it’s my first time out here, no doubt the Father led me here today. I am very interested in this book as well. Thank you and God’s Peace to all of the “Clingers”! <3

    June 20, 2016 at 8:50 am
  15. Kimberly

    An ongoing medical issue which continues to surface, despite numerous treatments, has left me feeling down, exhausted, worn out, and defeated. I want to be fully healed and healthy, inside and out.

    June 20, 2016 at 9:03 am
  16. Becky

    I need prayer for relief from the nerve pain on my face and head as a result of shingles that came on due to a reaction from my chemical sensitivities. Thank you to any who lift me up in prayer.

    June 20, 2016 at 10:15 am
  17. Pam

    What a great story & example. Clinging😄

    June 20, 2016 at 10:19 am
  18. Wendy Moore

    Praying over my finances! It seems we get no where…no matter how hard we try or save. Clinging to God’s promises, trying to remain obedient and trying to be content and choosing to have joy.
    May God grant us debt freedom. May we owe no man nothing but love!

    June 20, 2016 at 10:32 am
  19. Curtis

    Pray for physical,mental and spiritual healing for my wife and I. We need prayer for future employment opportunities. May God continue to be at the centre or our marriage. We pray for wisdom and protection from the devil as we raise our son to be a witness for God’s kingdom. As we cling to Christ, we pray for his mercy and grace.

    June 20, 2016 at 10:37 am
  20. Elonda
  21. Karen M

    Clinging!! This is exactly what I needed to read, at just the right moment. Thank you for your beautiful words!

    June 20, 2016 at 11:57 am
  22. Lisa M

    Clinging! describes my life caregiving at 50. My husband with cancer, my father just passed away and and my mother has dementia. All of this is a strain on our marriage. My husband “just said what you wrote about” is God listening? I try but I don’t have the words.

    June 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm
  23. Kassandra

    There’s is something so hopeful about learning about this kind of the thing from this devotional when you are in a dark place. But right now I’m in actually a good place (thank you Jesus for that) but it still has given me a hope I haven’t experienced before. Usually I find my deepest hope from God in my dark valleys but today God has opened my heart to joyfully receive, really receive, this word in my good place, something I don’t think I have ever been able to do. It’s so awesome thank you Alicia I’m a big fan of your writing and just recently became a big fan of Beth Moore I hope you guy’s both continue to be blessed to continue to write and preach in the amazing God given ways that you do. Be blessed highly favored women of God

    June 20, 2016 at 1:09 pm
  24. Deanna B.

    Thank you for the story. I too believe that I was directed to your site. I need prayer for increased and complete faith and trust in God. I’m weak now and don’t understand His plan. My only child is battling cancer and I need/she needs/we need prayer. I know God is a God who can do the impossible. I need the fervent prayers of righteous women. God Bless.

    June 20, 2016 at 1:34 pm
  25. Sherry


    June 20, 2016 at 2:48 pm
  26. Tonya

    Thank you for your inspirational words!! Clinging !!

    June 20, 2016 at 3:11 pm
  27. Melissa
  28. Agnes


    June 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm
  29. Angie B

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. Your examples of David’s faith have led me to my turning point. Prayer is the answer and it still works.

    “To God be the Glory”

    Angie B.

    June 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm
  30. Mary

    Rock of Ages (cleft for me…). This great hymn came to mind when I read about your rock climbing adventure. It was written in Scotland. When a sudden storm came upon the moor while the author was walking, he hid in the only place he could find… the crack of a single, large rock… The crack was not at first visible… but found just when he needed shelter and protection.
    God is always with us! Clinging to Him!

    June 20, 2016 at 5:31 pm
  31. Trying to cling to Him, but worn out and in need of prayer, please. Thank you for your post and willingness to pray. May God bless you! ♡

    June 20, 2016 at 6:34 pm
  32. Janice

    I am clinging! It’s been hard and it seems so long but I am so thankful for knowing God’s presence during this time…

    June 20, 2016 at 8:08 pm
  33. Judy

    My son, who were blind to his problem, overdosed last Monday. He spent 2 days on a ventilator and came home praise God a couple days later with the promise that he would seek help. Now he thinks he can handle it himself. I don’t know what to pray for. I’m clinging!

    June 20, 2016 at 8:11 pm
  34. Joanne

    Clinging to God in prayer.

    June 20, 2016 at 8:59 pm
  35. Natalie Ringgenberg
  36. Gloria Irving

    To pray through the storms that keeps rising knowing that God is there and here’s our cry and will answer us and walk U as safely thru each one regardless of the intensity. Thank you.

    June 20, 2016 at 10:49 pm
  37. Steph

    Thanks for your words! I am clinging each and every day!

    June 20, 2016 at 11:22 pm
  38. Amy Dowty

    A dear friend who was like a second Mom to me is struggling with a relapse of breast cancer. It has spread to her bones and liver. We are praying for a miracle.

    June 21, 2016 at 12:35 am
  39. Maria

    Yes, I am definitely clinging! As I pray for my finances/financial situation and for my youngest son, I feel like I need a miracle. I feel a bit spent and worn out. My son needs direction and motivation in his life and a Godly mentor to come up alongside of him and tuck him under his wing and offer guidance in becoming a young man of integrity. I hold on to the Lord saying “Fear not, for I am with you.” Thank you for what you shared.

    June 21, 2016 at 12:51 am
  40. Lynda
  41. Cynthia

    Please pray for my husband and I. We need Gods help in our marriage. Also pray for my daughter who has 5 children and is trying to get away from an abusive husband.

    June 21, 2016 at 5:42 am
  42. Carol

    Clinging!! These have been some of the most difficult months I can recall in a long time. Please pray for us: Finances, Relationship issues, God’s intervention and direction. Grace and “faith” for us to, wait “well”. Health issues. Children and Grandchildren issues. I find myself “wanting” to pray, but the words don’t come and feel awkward, so I end up, giving God -what sounds to me as- a “grocery list”, and though I “want” the items on the list, I don’t really “believe” I’m going to receive them (wow, this is the first time I’ve admitted this even to myself). I “YEARN” in a way I can’t put into words, for the type of relationship with God, that I heard many years ago in a song that say something like: “I want to get so close to You that, no one will know where one of us ends and where the other begins.” (Something to that effect). Thank you all for your prayers.

    June 21, 2016 at 7:08 am
  43. Carol

    Clinging!! These have been some of the most difficult months I can recall in a long time. Please pray for us: Finances, Relationship issues, God’s intervention and direction. Grace and “faith” for us to, wait “well”. Health issues. Children and Grandchildren issues. I find myself “wanting” to pray, but the words don’t come and I feel awkward, so I end up, giving God -what sounds to me as- a “grocery list”, and although I “want” the items on the list, I don’t really “believe” I’m going to receive them (Wow, this is the first time I’ve admitted this even to myself). I “YEARN” in a way I can’t put into words, for the type of relationship with God, that I heard many years ago in a song that says something like: “I want to get so close to You that, no one will know where one of us ends and where the other begins.” (Something to that effect). Thank you all for your prayers.

    June 21, 2016 at 7:19 am
  44. Linda

    Clinging indeed to the Solid Rock.

    June 21, 2016 at 7:42 am
  45. Karen

    Clinging, I loved Ps 63:6 when we can’t sleep, pray! Meditate on his word. Amen.

    June 21, 2016 at 8:17 am
  46. Sharon

    CLINGING!!! On so many issues. I just found you and your writing today 😉 God is SO good!! Thank you for sharing God’s Word through your writing. He has truly blessed you with the gift of putting great thoughts into words….Thank you for sharing your heart!!
    I would ask your prayers for my Mother, just being released from the hospital to skilled care today. Also, for my daughter, that she will listen for God’s will for her life, and find direction. Thank you!!

    June 21, 2016 at 11:37 am
  47. Carol

    Clinging! but I want to give up!!

    June 21, 2016 at 4:13 pm
  48. Janet J.
  49. Chelsea Dudley

    My marriage is a mess. My husband is not following God. We’re about to have three kids. I do t know what to do any more.

    September 12, 2016 at 1:44 am

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