A while ago, I watched an engineering program that described the following discovery: A steel tower that had stood for many decades ‘suddenly’ collapsed. Engineers investigated and discovered that the tower had been buffeted by winds, which, over time, had compromised the structural integrity of the steel. The bonds between the molecules had shattered.

This discovery led engineers to develop aerodynamic stabilizers consisting of three vanes that can be wrapped in a helical pattern on a chimney or tower. These vanes would collect the buffeting forces and funnel them upward in a vortex, thereby preventing the internal shaking that led to the tower’s eventual disintegration. The invention became known as a ‘helical strake’.

I was pondering this amazing discovery when I sensed the Lord wanted my attention. The words popped in my head: ‘You have an inbuilt helical strake that you can activate at will.’ When I asked God about this, it came to me that prayer is our helical strake. To explain, let’s say a problem arises: it could be a relational concern, a job loss, a health crisis. Instead of letting ‘the thing’ rattle me, I could send it up to the Lord in prayer. Some things that buffet us are greater than others.

Whether it’s a light breeze or a mighty gale, no one strong wind knocked the tower down, but the ongoing nature of them finally had their effect. The mental picture of deflecting everything the world throws at me upward became embedded in my thinking and is now a constant reminder whenever I am confronted with things that could challenge my internal stability (my peace). Instead of letting them build up and cause anxiety, I can hand them to God as they arise. Instead of carrying them and letting them rattle me, I can activate my helical strake.

This is confirmed by Phil 4:6-7 (NIV), saying:
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Physical helical strakes, once installed, do not need to be activated. That is, they work constantly. That is a good reminder that God is constantly listening, waiting for us to engage and respond to His loving attentiveness.

This reminds me of Paul’s admonition in 1 Thes 5:16-18 (KJV) to ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’

Rejoicing and thanksgiving surely play their part, but without relying on God to take our burdens, it will be harder to maintain our joy and give thanks. God’s ear, like an upside-down funnel, is waiting to hear all about the buffeting winds and draw them from us.