I’ve spent a lot of time on the telephone lately. I don’t talk to a lot of people usually, but there are certain people to whom I talk almost every day—my daughters, my mom, my husband when he is traveling. My grandchildren call frequently and I am always tickled to hear from them. It amazes me that sixteen-year-old Sara still calls her old grandma to chat for an hour at a time about her teenage concerns. Katie has my phone number hanging on a nail in her bedroom so she can call me at any time, and even Matthew, the youngest, learned on his own at the age of two that if he pushed a certain button (redial) he could call grandma. Of course, every once and a while he got someone else. If they only knew it was a two-year-old calling from Ecuador!
Bob gets lonely when he is on the road. He will often call six or seven times a day when he is gone, mostly to tell me about his work or road conditions, or just to ask how things are going at home and about Robbie. Well, to tell the truth, even if he’s just around town, he calls a lot. A simple trip to the grocery store will usually mean at least five or six calls!
I have a great appreciation for the telephone. It keeps us connected as a family. Since 1980 I have either been separated from my mother and siblings, or from one or both of my daughters. How thankful I am that I can pick up the phone and talk to them instantly! And I’m especially thankful for the changes that have come about in the way we telephone, as well! I remember well when I could only afford a quick phone call to my mom once a week on Sunday nights. I remember extremely well the hundreds of dollars we spent on international calls each month when Laurie first went to Ecuador as a college student. Lower prices and calling plans now make it possible to talk whenever and for as long as I want every day. Whoo-hoo! If the teenager or toddler wants to talk to Grandma three times a day, so what? Unlimited calling, I love you!
And the cell phone opened up new, remarkable ways of calling. It still tickles me to shop at Wal-Mart with my daughter in Ecuador via cell phone, or to be speeding down the interstate at seventy miles an hour (as a passenger, not the driver!) while I’m chatting with my grandchildren on the phone. Who would have ever thought it?
Our son-in-law Fernando was here from Ecuador for a couple days this week. He had to leave on Friday to return home, but Bob was in Michigan and could not take him to the airport. A man from our church kindly offered to drive him up to O’Hare, and Fernando was waiting for him that morning when Bob called. Bob had a number of concerns about things pertaining to his work, so I suggested we pray about them together over the telephone.
I had no sooner made the suggestion, and we were about to pray, when suddenly the phone cut out. Three times that happened, and then once before we could reconnect, Bob got a call from a customer. I figured Satan didn’t want us to pray together, but eventually after several attempts we were finally able to reach each other, and Bob began to pray while I bowed my head and prayed with him.
Uh-oh. Suddenly I heard the familiar beep-beep of Call Waiting. What to do? We were praying. I couldn’t just say, “Hang on, Bob—I have to pick up this call!” We don’t have Caller ID but the thought crossed my mind, “It’s probably Jerry wanting directions to the house so that he can pick up Fernando.” My next thought was, “Well, you just can’t put God on hold!”
I feel uncomfortable when people don’t show the proper reverence for the Lord when they are praying—when they yawn loudly in the middle of their prayer, or are looking around or messing with something in their hands. In my mind’s eye I picture us in the throne room of the King, approaching His throne when—we yawn right in His face??? I don’t think so. What I would not do in His physical presence, I don’t want to do in my spiritual communion with Him.
I ignored the beep. I ignored it, but I was worried that it was Jerry. Time was growing short and Fernando couldn’t be late leaving for the airport. A minute later Call Waiting beeped again. This time I was sure it was Jerry. I had to pick up. I didn’t say anything to Bob, but just quietly answered the other call. “Just a minute, Jerry,” I quickly said. “Bob’s on the other line.” Bob—and God, I thought guiltily. “I’ll get back to you in a minute.”
I went back to the other call within seconds. Bob was still praying. He hadn’t even missed me, but I knew the Lord knew I had put Him on hold. “Well, that’s a new one,” I sighed to myself. “Putting God on hold.”
The more I thought about it later, though, the more I realized that it is not something new at all. We do it all the time, to our shame. We realize the importance of prayer intellectually perhaps, but in practicality prayer often ranks low in many people’s list of priorities until they need to pull it off the shelf in a hurry in a time of need. Even mature Christians often neglect it or do not attach the awesome privilege and power to it that it deserves. It is a privilege to boldly approach the throne of the King, the only true and living God, the Creator and Master of heaven and earth, the great I Am as His child and bring our cares and our requests to Him! How can we treat it so lightly? How can we neglect that great privilege and honor? How can we ignore its power so freely offered to us? How can we put the Lord on hold in our lives? I can’t remember if I’ve shared the following with you before, but if I have, it bears repeating:
We must make an absolute commitment to consistently spend significant time alone with God in uninterrupted prayer. Nothing should be more important in our lives than prayer. When it is a priority we will desire far more than just a “prayer in passing,” a few minutes of devotions in the morning, or asking a blessing before meals. Consider the statement above: Make an absolute commitment – I will not allow anything to get in the way of my prayer time with the Lord; to consistently – day in and day out, without fail; spend significant time – surely I can carve thirty minutes or an hour out of my day to speak to the Lord when it is my priority; alone with God – family devotions are great and necessary, but I need time when it is just me and God together; in uninterrupted prayer – I won’t be rushed or torn away by other things or people. After all, what a privilege and joy to speak personally and intimately with the God of all creation and my Lord and Savior! I Thessalonians 5: 17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” That special time of day when we commune solely with the Lord should put us in the frame of mind where it is simple to be constantly in communion with Him as we go about our daily business. If we truly understood the power of what prayer can do in our lives and the privilege it is to be able to come as His child to the very throne of the God of the universe, perhaps we would not be so complacent about out prayer lives. Prayer should be at the top of our list of priorities. Jesus said “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
We should approach our prayer time as a relationship with God rather than a required ritual. Prayer should not be seen as a duty, or drudgery or just one more thing to be crossed off a to-do list. It is not memorized words, repetitious posturing or eloquent phrases all strung together for effect. True prayer is an important part of a love-relationship between me and my Heavenly Father. It is an intimate two-way conversation, for as I speak to Him, I will begin to hear Him speaking to me. Many times we are so busy “serving” Him that, like Martha (Luke 10:38-42), we neglect sitting down and talking with Him. Our Father loves it when we want to spend time with Him because we love Him. He loves to hear us tell Him that we love Him. He loves it when we come to Him as His children and bring our cares and requests to Him and He delights in answering our prayers when we ask according to His will. I John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, we know He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” We need prayer for daily cleansing; for drawing closer to our Lord as we commune with Him; for His guidance; for the power to live the dynamic life He wants us to live for Him.
We would not keep an earthly president or king waiting, or put them on hold. My Father the King deserves even greater reverence, and we are foolish to ignore the communication with Him that He so lovingly has extended to us