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"Calling Home"
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."

Or . . .

"Hello, We're tending to the other half of the world right now and you've reached our voice mail, leave a message for God and We will get right back. If this is a literal emergency, hang up and dial 911."

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?
Now, what's the problem with your prayer life? With all the verse in Scripture and all the books on prayer and all the preaching you've heard, why are you willing to read yet another article on PRAYER? May I suggest that an obvious reason? None of us is satisfied with our prayer life!

  • A few of us may NOT know to WHOM we pray -- or what to say.
  • Many of us are not certain if we should be praying about all the stuff that occupies so much of our prayer time.
  • Some of us are having trouble knowing who is generating the answers to our prayers. Is that voice inside us urging us to "Go for it, sister!" the Lord's or are we hearing what we want to hear?
  • A few of us, though, have been praying faithfully for years and still God seems not to answer. Or, He may have responded with unsolicited perhaps disagreeable answers.

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!
This summer, my husband bought a cellular phone to use in his work. After seemingly following all instructions, he tried it and it would not work. After several days of endless calls to the service provider, we finally exchanged the equipment. He concluded the service provider was at fault and what he needed was either a new phone company or a different piece of equipment. So, he set about to search out new equipment on the Internet. He came across the Web page of the manufacturer of what he thought was our defective cell phone. Scrolling down, he came to "Solutions to Frequently Asked Questions."

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
God has shown us what HE wants HIS women to be like, so he carefully recorded information about many women for a reason. They were not perfect they had problems they struggled with unbelief but they obeyed at a critical point in their walk with God and HE blessed them. Their faith was the assurance of the things they hoped for, the conviction of things they could not see. For by faith in God the women of old gained approval. (Heb 11:1-2) What He said about these women may help you to pray more intelligently. What about her life impresses you? How does the record of her life encourage your prayer life? Pick one or two women and listen for God to form some specific prayers about issues in your life:

  1. Tamar: (Her name may mean "like a palm." Because of the value of palm trees in the East, the idea of this name connotes wealth and beauty) Scripture references Genesis 38:6-30; Ruth 4:12; 1 Chronicles 2:4; Matthew 1:3

  2. Rahab: Scripture references: Joshua 2:1, 3; 6:17-25; Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25

  3. Ruth: Scripture references: The Book of Ruth, Matt. 1:6 What about Naomi's life impresses you?

  4. Bathsheba: Scripture references: II Sam. 11:2,3; 12:24; I Ki. 1:11-31; 2:13-19; I Chr. 3:5; Matt.1:6

  5. Hannah: Scripture references: I Samuel 1; 2:1-21 How does her prayer life inform yours

  6. Abigail: The woman with beauty and brains and a troubled marriage Scripture references: I Samuel 25:1-42; II Samuel 3:3

  7. In Gen 21:1: "Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised." What do you know about Sarah's life? Her life was recorded by Moses in Genesis. She became the mother of nations. Look up Isaiah 51:2; Romans 4:19; 9:9; Hebrews 11:11; I Peter 3:6

  8. Mary: The mother of our Lord Jesus Christ Scripture references: Matthew 1;2; 12:46; Luke 1; 2; John 2:1-11; 19:25; Acts 1:14 Read the Magnificat. (Lk 1: 46-55) What do you learn about prayer from Mary?

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)

Next: "Don't Skip Over Your Privileges and Rights!"

© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Selected from material prepared for a prayer conference at the First Baptist of Alto Loma's Women's Prayer Retreat. Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.

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Third Floor Publishing
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Arnold, MD 21012

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