By Van Richmond
Pastor, New Life Church, Nashville
Focal Passage: Ephesians 6:18-22
E.T., the abandoned alien in the 1982 movie, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” learned enough English to express his deepest desire: “Phone home.” Today E.T. would probably say something like, “Skype Saturn.” Incredible technological advances allow us to use high-definition sight and sound to easily connect with someone in Memphis, Madagascar, or on the moon.
Thankfully Christians have prayer as our instant link to the most important person in our lives — and prayer never needs recharging, software updates, or tech support!
Paul reminds us we are to pray at all times. Why not? Psalm 145:18 reassures us by saying, “God’s there, listening for all who pray” (MSG). God wants us to keep the communication channel open. Prayer is the ultimate mobile device that lets us “phone home” and have a private conversation with our Father, regardless of the time or circumstance. (Since my family once shared a party line with seven neighbors, I appreciate having a conversation without others eavesdropping.)
Prayer is the conduit God uses to have a quiet, personal talk with His children as He invites us to share everything — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Paul’s phrase “every prayer and request” does require us, though, to be “in the Spirit” and not in the flesh.
The story goes that the pastor arranged for a gathering of the women’s auxiliary, a garden party under the old oak tree on the church lawn. At the last moment, the morning of the party, Mrs. Preacher discovered she had left Sister Hissyfit off the invitation list. The preacher called the dear sister and begged forgiveness. “I’m so sorry we didn’t catch this sooner, Mrs. Hissyfit. Won’t you please come to the garden party?” The offended Mrs. H. replied, “Beggin’ won’t help now, Preacher. I’ve already prayed for rain!”
Prayer also connects us with others. It is important to recognize the significance of praying for others as well as ourselves as directed in verse 18. Max Lucado says one of the overriding questions we ask ourselves is, “Do my prayers matter?” God’s Word answers that question with an undisputed “Yes!”
Christ promises “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). Hannah prayed fervently a personal prayer for a son, and the compassionate Lord granted her heartfelt request. In Exodus 32, Moses’ intercessory plea led God to change His mind about destroying the nation of Israel. Pray for others and for yourself. Sounds something like “love your neighbor as yourself,” doesn’t it? Pray for individuals, church leaders, and government officials.
Prayer is the first step to being rescued. Five men were entrapped in a deserted zinc mine in Salem, Ky., by falling rocks. They had nothing to eat. They were in utter darkness. One of the men could have saved himself had he not run back to warn the others.
When the entombed men discovered that they could not escape, they began to pray and sing. Their prayer and praise service lasted for 53 hours! Then they were rescued. Later one of the men testified, “We lay there from Friday morning till Sunday morning. We prayed “without ceasing.” When the rescuers reached us, we were still praying!”
When the men were brought up out of the mine, on the caps of each one were scrawled these words: “If we are dead when you find us, we are all saved!”
While those men could not contact their families, they could “phone home” to God. The single most life-changing piece of information we can share with someone is how that one simple prayer can change their life and their eternity. We may find them dead, but they too can be saved. It just takes one call.