Prayer Is A Tool
Not A Drive Thru Window
Have you ever lived in a world where the only means of communication was sending smoke signals?
No, I’m sure you haven’t but you can imagine how involved the process was.
You had to collect dry fuel to start a fire, wet fuel to create smoke and then generate a spark to get the fire going. None of that is easy to do.
There was no simple way to start a fire without matches and you couldn’t skimp on fuel. You needed clouds of smoke, not puffs. And to regulate the smoke you needed a blanket.
Sending smoke signals required a lot of hard, skillful work just to get started.
Distance was a consideration too.
Smoke dissipates quickly so line-of-sight and distance were critical factors. If the recipient was too far, the connection was lost.
Smoking your message from Venezuela to California wasn’t going to happen.
Of course, there were more effective ways to send messages even in the past if you had a lot of time and spare money.
If distance was a problem, no worries. Send a trusted servant with your message, be it written or oral. That approach had more range than smoke, but who could afford to send employees with personal messages over long distances?
There was nothing quick about it either. It could take weeks or months and there was no guarantee. Messengers got lost, robbed or even killed. Who knows, they could even take advantage of the opportunity to run off and never return.
And if the message didn’t get through, you might never know what really happened.
Historically, the biggest problem with personal messaging is inaccessibility. Very few people had the means to send or receive messages.
Rome developed an interesting advancement to solve this problem, the Cursus Publicus (the public way – 400 AD) but there were still limitations. Only the elite could use it and it connected only to certain spots. It was much more effective than smoke but still mostly inaccessible and limited by coverage.
Over time messaging became more widely available but even then it left much to be desired.
If you lived in India in the 1700’s, it could take 4 to 6 months to send a letter by ship to England. Which means, of course, it could take a full year before receiving a return reply.
Can you imagine how carefully the original message had to be written? The wrong word choice or misspelled word or unclear thought and the recipient could totally miss your point. How frustrating! After waiting a full year, you discover the reply answers the wrong question. The only option was to write a second message carefully clarifying your original request and you’ll wait another year for a corrected reply.
We’ve come a long way since those days. Whatever you want to say now, can be sent immediately. And if you misspell a word – or auto-correct misspells it for you – not a problem. Most will understand your meaning anyway but if they don’t, you can send an immediate correction.
Wooup, ping, wooup, ping, wooup, ping. Messages are instantly delivered and replies arrive more quickly than bullets ricochet.
Prayer Has Always Been Instant
But here’s the point. Instant messaging on a human level, which is fairly new, has been around a long time on the spiritual plane. There’s never been a time when prayer wasn’t an easy, quick and reliable way to communicate with God. It’s a conversation in real time. We call it prayer because it’s a conversation with God and it is just as fast as any ISP today. Faster really.
When you pray, God hears your prayer immediately. The argument could be made that He knows what you’ll ask before you pray (He’s all-knowing) but that’s not all. He knows what you really need (all-wise), what you really mean when your prayer is confused or what you should ask when you aren’t sure.
Nothing in today’s world matches the security and reliability of prayer. Nothing!
Every Pray Gets Through
Truth: You never have to wonder if your prayer got through. God never sleeps and since He is everywhere, He is constantly hearing everyone and everything.
Not only does God hear every prayer, He actually listens. God is love which means He really cares about what we ask. But He’s also all-powerful! His attention span is never exhausted.
He actually wants to hear us and has the ability to listen intently. He doesn’t tune us out or glaze over when we get long winded.
Your prayers don’t even need to be audible. God’s ability to hear is never limited by distance or volume. You think it, God hears it. David exclaimed:
You understand my thought afar off. (Ps. 139:2)
Meaning, of course, that God knew what he was going to think before He thought it.
Every Prayer Is Answered
This is a fact. There has never been a prayer God hasn’t answered. Why would anyone who really wants to hear us and listens closely to what we say not respond? Philosophically it’s impossible. If you hear a request, anything you do is a response.
It’s impossible for God to turn a deaf ear and when Hears, He responds deliberately.
His response may not be what you want or ask but even saying nothing is a response.
Prayer is a conversation with God, not a drive through window. It’s a tool for patiently searching for answers.
Our wish is not His command. Prayer is our way of asking, seeking, looking for guidance and finding solutions. And we live in a world of time-based processes.
If you ask God for shade, He might encourage you to plant a tree. If you ask for food, He might lead you to plant a crop or maybe develop some cooking skills.
Not everything comes in hermetically sealed packages, ready to eat.
God answers immediately, but His answer may include the word wait or instructions on how to reach the goal.
Every Prayer Should Be Personal
Prayer has no recipe. Repeat after me is a good way to parrot others but it isn’t prayer. Whatever you say in prayer should reflect your heart, not your ability to memorize.
Lepers, blind men and grieving mothers didn’t follow carefully crafted formulas when they asked Jesus for help. Their requests were spontaneous eruptions. It was personal and individual. Their desperation was apparent.
When you pray, don’t look for a recognized preface or accepted wording. Speak from the heart. Anything else may be vain repetition (Matt. 6:7). Don’t do it.