Saturday, January 23, 2016

Operator Assistance

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 since long distance rates these days are only a few cents per minute, we don't think twice about picking up the phone to chat.

It wasn't that long ago, however, that Operatormaking a long distance call was a big deal. The phone company's catchy TV commercials even invited us to "reach out and touch someone." Not only was long distance expensive, the caller first had to dial zero and ask the operator to place a person-to-person call.

Today's access to easy and affordable long distance communications is a privilege that many of us take for granted. As Christ-followers, we're also privileged when it comes to another type of communications: the ability to speak with 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.

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? There are times when even the most seasoned Christ-followers feel like their prayers go no higher than the ceiling.

Prayer is much like a long distance phone call. Sometimes the signal comes in loud and clear--like the other person is as close as 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--like a spouse, child or co-worker--it must 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 issues, why even ask him in the first place?

But what happens when we pray sincerely and with good intentions, but our prayers still go unanswered? Rest assured 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, he already 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: not what we necessarily wanted, but what we actually needed.

That's news to phone home about. 

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