Thanksgiving

The majority of the world lives without the hope offered by Christ. The open door to God’s throne is a unique post-resurrection-ascension-enthronement Christian notion and unique privilege. That we can pray, pour out our souls to a God who cares, is an incredible privilege. That we get answers from God is beyond incredible. Sadly, prayer is now seen as passé. It is the most under-utilized privilege afforded believers. The average American Christian prays only four minutes a day. God leaves his door open and invites us to visit and bring our troubles, doing so with gratitude in view of his previous grants. When heaven answers our prayer, we should not be silent about such a benevolent God.

Calling God

In the movie Bruce Almighty, a seven-digit number that flashed on Jim Carrey’s display was purportedly God calling. Usually, carefully chosen non-functioning numbers are used in movies. In that movie, the number displayed was a functioning number, at least, when paired with some area codes. A phenomenon followed the airing of the movie across the nation. People added an area code and started calling the number – presumably calling “God!” Those who received the calls “to God” quickly caught on. Many played along. Some found desperate callers on the other end of the line.

A call to a Colorado Network was from a woman behind bars. Only reaching an answering machine did not deter her from leaving a poignant message, “I’m in jail right now. Like I said to you last night, ‘I love you.’” She assured God she was going to change the way she was living and requested His help to return to her family. One person called the number and admitted that they knew this wasn’t the number for God, but wondered if there was another! One medical supervisor, whose seven-digit number matched that shown on the screen was getting as many as 40-50 calls a day shortly after the movie aired. People want to talk to God.[1]

God’s Invitation – “Call Me!”

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet who witnessed the demise of Judah, the destruction of the Temple, and the exile of his Jewish brothers, never lost faith in the power of prayer. “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV). An unknown poet wrote, “When God inclines the heart to pray, He hath an ear to hear; To Him there’s music in a groan, and beauty in a tear.”[2] The desire to pray itself is evidence of God’s work in the heart. It is by grace that we pray.

A Gallup poll some years ago revealed surprising facts about prayer. Some 88 percent of Americans pray to God in one way or another, but only 42 percent dared ask God for material or tangible things – a surprisingly low number. And only 15 percent said they regularly experienced answers to specific requests.[3] God says, “Call me sometime!”

God’s Compassionate Nature

“In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction” Isaiah declared (Isaiah 38:17). The psalmist recalled, “O LORD, You brought me up from the grave. You called me back to life from among those who had gone into the pit” (Psalm 30:3, GWT).We rejoice first that there is a God. Then we are grateful He hears us when we pray, and He cares about us as a loving Father. Prayer is about the relationship, before it is about the benefits.

Just the privilege of prayer is worthy of joy and gratefulness. We rejoice, confident that there is someone on the other end of the line. To withhold our gratitude unless God performs to our expectations indicates the degree to which pride controls our lives. He is God, we are the servants. Prayer is no magic lantern to be rubbed and God is no genie who is there to blindly grant our wishes. That is a pagan idea of prayer! The idea of a compassionate God who hears us weeping in the night and cares is matchless among the religions of the world. And it is distinctively a Christian-Jewish notion.

 

P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

[1] Mike MacIntosh. Falling in Love with Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Books, 2004), 27.

[2] John Julian, editor; A Dictionary of Hymnology: Setting Forth the Origin and History of Christian Hymns; “When God Inclines the Heart to Pray,” (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1892), 907; From Spurgeon’s O. O. H. Bk, 1866.

[3] Margaret Poloma and George Gallup, Jr., Varieties of Prayer (Philadelphia, PA: Trinity Press International, 1991), 26-52.

 

1 Comment

  1. Pastor Doug, can’t tell you how much the ministry He has poured through you through the years has meant to Phil & I. Thanks for the blog. Yes, what a privilege being able to have conversations with my Lord. Knowing He hears and I hear back. Love you & Barbara

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