The Lord said to him: "I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there."
-- 1 Kings 9:3
The world may be about 25,000 miles around, but it's also a very small place. We effortlessly send emails, texts, tweets and Facebook messages to friends and family members who live across town--or even across the ocean. And with long distance charges costing only a few cents a minute, we don't think twice about picking up the phone to chat.
It wasn't that long ago, however, that making a long distance call was a big deal. The phone company's catchy TV commercials even invited you to "reach out and touch someone." Not only was calling long distance expensive, the caller first had to dial zero and ask the operator to place a person-to-person call.
It's safe to say that today's access to easy and affordable long distance communications is a privilege that we most likely take for granted. And as Christ-followers, we're also privileged when it comes to another type of communications: the ability to go to God in prayer about our blessings, troubles, concerns and everything else that's going on in our lives. It's an intimate conversation made possible through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
This raises an important question: If we have such a unique relationship with the Creator, why is it that some of our prayers go unanswered? Indeed, there are times when even the most seasoned Christ-followers feel like their prayers go no higher than the ceiling.
Prayer really is a bit like a long distance phone call. Sometimes the signal comes in loud and clear--like the person is in the next room. But sometimes there's static...or the call doesn't go through at all.
Borrowing some cell phone lingo, there are several reasons for these dropped calls to God. First, we must make sure that the line is clear by dealing with any unconfessed sin in our lives. Likewise, if we're carrying a grudge against someone--perhaps a spouse, child or co-worker--it needs to be ironed out before we can expect God to listen to us.
Faith also plays a big part in prayer. If we pray but don't think God has the power or desire to deal with our problems, why even ask in the first place?
But what happens when we pray sincerely and with good intentions, and our prayers still go unanswered? What's important to remember is that God really does answer all prayers. It's just that sometimes, the answer is "no" or "not now." As the Creator of things past, present and future, God knows the big picture--the people, places and circumstances that make all the difference in the world to our situation. It's only later that we realize that God had a much better plan in mind for us all along.
That's news worth calling home about.