The reason for being named “Praying Mantis” is obvious when you observe one of these large insects. The folded “hands” remind us of what we often visualize when we think of a traditional posture of prayer.
I’ve known for a long time that the “Praying Mantis” is a fierce and efficient predator. They not only capture and eat about any small creature that ventures too close, but the female will sometimes eat her mate! (I sure hope this practice remains in the insect world and does not become popular among higher life forms!) I’ve seen a lot of these insects through the years, but some thoughts struck me while I attempted to get this one to pose.
When the Mantis is in the “praying” position, it is not “preying”. Being poised to grab lunch, it cannot be the predator until it quickly abandons the praying position. I understand that the “Praying Mantis” can extend those spiny front legs so speedily that our eyes might not detect the movement.These front legs are well equipped to snare and hold a victim. The head will rotate 180 degrees.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 comes to mind. “Pray without ceasing”.
I understand God designed the ‘Praying Mantis” to be a predator. But, He gives clear instructions throughout scripture for humans to act and react otherwise. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, ”Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. These principles go against our nature, and I struggle putting all this into practice. However, I have always found that when I am willing to remain in praying mode, I have no desire or time to be in preying mode. The two cannot coincide.
Unlike the Mantis, God is telling me that prayer is not designed to ready me for an attack, but He intends prayer to position me to love and forgive. The Mantis does a lot of “preying”– it’s a matter of survival. And I also need to do a lot of “praying”– it’s a matter of survival for me as I journey through my everyday living.
An interesting note: “Mantis” is an ancient Greek term that means “prophet”. I guess the next time I see one I’ll think of it as a praying prophet.