7-12-15 PRAYER

PRAYER

July 12, 2015

               For centuries before the invention of the telephone, people connected items that served as a diaphragm with a string or wire.  When a person spoke into one end, the sound waves were carried to the person on the other end.  When we were kids, we would make these using a tin can or even a paper cup.  I'm sure some of you remember doing this, don't you?

          In the 1800s many different inventors worked at turning this idea into the first telephone.  But one man is credited with the creating the first practical telephone, which he patented in 1876.  Do you remember his name?  Alexander Graham Bell.  Yes, of course you do, because we can't even imagine living without a telephone “ whether it be the dial phone I used as a child or the cell phones that today's kids use.  Communication is vital to every aspect of life - personal, social, business, and yes - spiritual. 

          So how do we communicate with God?

       Before the fall of man, God used to communicate face to face.  He walked with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden.  Their relationship was perfect.  It was almost like when you start first start dating someone, and you think they are just absolutely the most awesome person in the whole world, and you want to hear every word they say, and learn all about them.  You are mesmerized by every syllable that comes out of their mouth, and they are just as entranced by you. 

         But then we sinned.  And that sin separated us from God.  But God still wanted to talk to us.  So He would find people that still loved Him, that were still longing to hear from Him, and they would hear His voice, such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  Like when we have a loved one that has moved away, but we look forward to their calls; and when the ringtone we have assigned to them plays on our phone, we drop whatever we are doing and grab that phone and answer as fast as we can so we don't miss their call.   For instance, most of you know that my son, Tommy, works at Cedar Point in Ohio 8 months out of the year.  Once a week he calls home, and Ed and I really look forward to talking to him. How many of us would be that enthused to hear from God?  Or would we just let it go to voice mail? 

          The 'in' thing right now is texting.  So often any more we would rather text someone than call them, or even talk face to face.  My husband, who refuses to own a cell phone, isn't into texting.  And he loves the line from a recent movie, "Machete don't text!"  But he is in the minority.  In fact, some people are so addicted to it, that it is now one the leading cause of car accidents, because people just can't stop doing it even while they are driving.  Did you know that individuals who text message while driving are 23 times more likely to get into an accident, than those who don't?  If only we were that addicted to God's texts, found right here in the Bible.  Personal messages from God to us.  Even time I open my Bible at random, a verse or chapter will jump out at me with a message from God that relates to a current issue in my life.  It is God sending me a text message!  Of course, God would like for us to read more than a verse here and there.  His Word speaks to our hearts in ways that nothing else can.

         And while we are on the subject of speaking to our hearts, did you ever wonder why what language you use when praying makes no difference whatsoever?  That is because prayer in any language is heard by God - instantly translated into what I call 'heart language'.  And not only that, but if our heart says one thing, and our words another - God goes by what our heart says.  So the words themselves are relatively unimportant.  The Bible says "the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought."  in 1 Chronicles 28:9 

          A funny thing happened as I was typing the location of this verse into my sermon.  I hit the colon sign and then accidently hit the shift key as I typed the 9.  Up came a 'frown face'.  You know, like when you are typing a text message and you type the colon symbol and then the left parenthesis to make a 'sad face'.  It seemed as if the Lord was saying to me, "You know, not everyone is happy that I can see into their heart.  Remember what I said when I was on earth: 'You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.'"  (Matthew 15:7-9)  And my own "people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them".  (Acts 28:27) 

        Tell me with a straight face that you have never said one thing, but thought another, even to God.  That sometimes that  "Praise be to God" in your words, is actually spoken by your heart as "God, why did you let me down?"  We've all done it.  And God knows it.  So why not just be honest with God and ask Him, "Why did you let me down?"  You might be surprised at His answer!  We hate it when our kids try to hide something from us.  We know what really happened, and it hurts us that they would try to lie to us.  We would much prefer them to just be honest in the first place.  And so it is with God.  Tell Him how you really feel.  Tell Him what your heart truly desires.  I'm not saying He will always give you what you want, just as we don't always give our children what they want, because we only do what we know is best for them.  They don't always understand why they can't have their way, and sometimes they will get mad, or pout.  My granddaughter is known to throw herself on the ground and have quite a tantrum!  But someday they will understand that it was your love for them that caused you to say "no" and bear their anger at you for it.  And so it is with God.  So talk to Him openly and often - in prayer - from the heart. 

          And then don't have your spiritual cell phone turned off, or the sound on mute, so you can't hear when He answers.  What turns it off?  Primarily sin.  Unconfessed sin.  Sin you are holding on to because you just can't bear to let it go.  Sin deadens your ears to the sound of God's voice.  It numbs your brain to the message in His texts, His holy Word.  It quenches the Spirit, as the Bible says.  It could be unforgiveness toward a brother or sister in Christ.  It could be that website that you know you shouldn't keep returning to.  It could be any number of secret sins that you keep locked in your heart, and that lock is what is also what is keeping God out.  So why not just confess them to God (He knows about them already anyway), and then give them up?  It might seem difficult at first, but you will feel so much better afterwards.  And then the lines of communication will be open.  God will not only hear your prayers, but answer them.  And He might surprise you and answer them in ways beyond what you even dreamed.  He is good like that.  He is an amazing God, who loves you more than anyone on earth ever could.  He wants to tell you that.  Pick up the phone!