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by Barbara Smith
Our pastor said one of the distinguishing marks of Christian is PRAYER without ceasing. I was taking notes furiously — good stuff! However, he then posed a question that stopped me cold: "What does your prayer life have to do with the will of God?" I stopped writing: "My prayer life has something to do with the will of God?"
If I appraise squarely the content of what passes for prayer in my life, I can't boast that my prayers are tightly linked to the will of God. Too often I merely rehearse my problems: "He-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-o, God? Please pick up. This is Barbara, I am desperate."
When my prayers seem to fail, I wonder if God answers prayers the way we answer phone calls. My aunt confided in me a while back that when she prays she thinks God answers, but then puts her on hold — an apt description of how many of us think when we don't feel we have gotten through to God!
We are so accustomed to electronic devices that automatically put us on hold or redirect our calls — that even Christians may think that getting through to God is like plugging into a cosmic switchboard. Some calls get through. Some do not.
A clever commercial even reinforces this fear: a sympathetic switchboard angel directs nervous or hysterical callers through channels. A worse fear for us is, what if God screens His calls the way we screen ours. He checks the caller ID, knows it is you again so lets His voice mail pick up.
"Hi This is God, we are answering calls in sequence. Your call is very important to us, so don't hang up. We may monitor these calls."
The Bible teaches nothing like that! No angel or electronic device screens our prayers. God takes all His own calls: "call upon me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor me." (Psalm 50:15) He wants to hear from His children — He delights in their prayers. ( Prov. 15:8) Indeed, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ need NO device to speak to the Creator of the Universe! Our elder Brother, Jesus, made an unbreakable connection, giving us free access to HIS Father through faith in HIS shed blood.
Trouble on the Line?
Christians want to improve our communications with God — wanting either to initiate a connection, or to deepen and strengthen the connections we have. Now just like there is a right way and a wrong way to use a phone — I am learning there are better and worse ways to pray. When I sense my prayers are hitting the ceiling and bouncing back, I think I may have been careless in how I talk to God. When I think I hear, "I am sorry, but first you must dial ‘1' and area code," I think I may be dialing up God with the wrong motives. God is not actually saying, "Hang up and dial again," but He is prompting me to think through what I am saying, and why.
Be sure your connection is firm!
They asked, "Did you push the antenna of your cellular phone down until you hear a click?" He looked at the antenna on his phone: he had inserted it, but now he saw a minuscule gap between the antenna and the body of the phone. He pushed the antenna firmly; it clicked. Now a happy cell phone customer, he blushes when he recalls his angry complaints about the service provider, when he was the culpable party.
What does this have to do with prayer you ask? God is always on the air, but you will never communicate with Him unless you firmly connect your antenna. If you are trying to pray, without being connected to the Throne of Grace through faith in Christ alone, you may not even know you are unconnected — or you may know it but blame your misfortunes on everyone but yourself! Refusing, or neglecting to pray in faith through Christ, breaks a vital connection to God. He may still speak to us, but disconnecting Bible study, church activities and attendance from Christ-centered prayer is like trying to receive a radio or TV signal without connecting the antennae. You may have a receiver and the radio or the TV station may be transmitting. However, you will not hear or see anything meaningful without connecting an antenna.
Save yourself a great deal of grief: Get on your knees and push that antenna until it clicks! Talk to your Maker. Confess it is your error, not His, that has disrupted communication. If that doesn't work — look in the Bible and learn the often simple steps you have to take to get in communication with your Father.
Before we go further — if you can't remember a specific time in your life when you agreed with God that HE is right and you are wrong — that you have sinned and come short of the Glory of God — that you need HIS forgiveness and cleansing, NOW is the very time to call home! Your Creator wants to hear from you. The call is free for you, but costly for Him: He gave His only begotten Son so that you could speak directly to Him.
For those of you who made the connection to God through faith in Christ years ago, if it has been awhile since you called home, now is also the time for you to call home: Your Father wants to talk to you. He wants to hear YOUR voice. He has granted you a prepaid unlimited calling card. He wants to tell you that HE loves you and that He knows what you are going through and He wants to help you. He has plans for *you,* plans for your welfare and not for calamity, plans to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11-14)
For those who are tired, so tired of praying — perhaps unable to form another prayer: may I encourage you to relax into the arms of your Father? Let the Holy Spirit search your heart and tell the Lord Jesus how to pray for you — for HE lives to make intercession for you. (Hebrews 7:25) I hope you will reconsider some of the following, familiar Bible verses, and call home. Hear your Father: "Hello, my child, I am glad to hear from you."
Becoming a Woman of Prayer
Keep reading ! Read about these women — Deborah, (Judges 4 & 5; Hebrews 11:32-34;) Dorcas, (Acts 9 36-43) Jeosheba, Joash's aunt, (2 Kings 11) and Salome, who wanted the best for her boys. (See Mat.20:20-24; 27:56; Mark 10:35-40; 15:40, 41;16:1,2) Build your own list! A good resource is All the women in the Bible by Herbert Lockyer.
Remember: "The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. (Ps 145:18-19)
© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
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