As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
– 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
“The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Just think: God hears you even faster than that! And consider His power. Individuals can make a difference, and unified groups can accomplish great things, but God can do even more.
“Paul knew the power of prayer. He saw it in Thessalonica. “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,” and “your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything” (1Thessalonians 1:2, 8). He solicited their prayers to speed along the gospel. Paul’s success in Macedonia and Achaia was due largely to their prayers and actions. “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
“Spending time in prayer can accomplish more than what man can do in a lifetime on his own.”
– Presidential Prayer Team Devotion
Note to the Reader: This post went in a totally different direction than where I thought I was going when I started writing. When I found my new destination, and I was writing the closing paragraphs, my wife called. She had just gotten an e-mail that our senior pastor was very ill, needing at least six weeks of treatment. He needs prayers. His wife needs prayers. Our church needs prayers. My next question to the Lord, is this why you took me down this U-turn? Because of the change in gears, the post is a little disjointed. I thought of cleaning it up, but then thought it might be alright as is. Sometimes the bumpy transition when God redirects our path reminds us that we live for an awesome God.
When I read the devotion above, I said, “Wait a minute! The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. The speed of sound is 767 miles per hour, a fraction of a mile per second (under standard conditions). We cannot ‘say’ our prayers and have God hear what we say faster than the speed of sound, much less the speed of light. That is a physical and mathematical impossibility.”
Then it dawned on me. My wife had a vision nearly twenty years ago. In the vision, she communicated by her thoughts. I have heard other people, who had similar experiences, say the same thing. God hears what we say when our mind sends the signal to our mouth to utter the prayer. Of course, God knows what is in our minds. He could read our thoughts, making prayer an unnecessary exercise, but would that really be the case?
God could have snapped His fingers and saved His chosen people. He didn’t need to send Jesus to the cross for Him to die, but He did.
God set in motion at the dawn of time a creation that He knew would stumble. In stumbling and failing, the human race is given the opportunity to believe and trust in Him, God. They have a choice to forgive and be forgiven. This is basic Christianity 101. But, what of prayer?
Just like when God makes salvation a choice for us to accept His Will, He also asks us to pray. It is our choice to establish a relationship with Him. But God is not Ron Popeil. Ron Popeil was the original infomercial guy. His big invention was the Showtime Rotisserie. According to him, you can “Set it and forget it.” Meaning, you could walk away from a cooking meal, and it would be properly cooked, not burned, when you woke up from your nap.
Well, God does not nap on us, and He wants us to talk to Him. Salvation is a one-time thing. At one point in our lives, we can choose God’s will, unconditionally surrendering our own. But then what?
Okay, there is the process (sometimes painful process) of repenting of our sins, cleaning up our lives, because we want to become more like Jesus. That is called sanctification. Sanctification takes the rest of our lives, but we are not alone during this process.
The Holy Spirit is there to guide us. We can know that it is the Holy Spirit talking, if we read and study the Bible. I have heard it said that Bible Study and guidance from the Holy Spirit must go together. Again, that is our choice. The Holy Spirit comes into us upon salvation, but we don’t hear much from Him unless we are trying to learn what God inspired the writers of the Scriptures to say. God is the author of Scripture, using human writers.
But this prayer thing is also a choice. In a way, we pray to God whether we think we are praying or not.
Have you ever had a day when you get this urge to pray, and your conscious thought thinks, “Not now. I’m busy.” You just prayed. To use the crude vernacular of my youth, your prayer sucked, but you just talked to God.
So, Yes. It does matter to God whether you 1) want your wife to get over her bad cold or you 2) actually say the words, “God, heal my wife of her cold.” (By the way, this is an example. My wife does not have a cold.)
I will have to confess right here and now. I am lousy at prayer time. Much of my day is reading, studying, listening to what God is saying – even with many a silent Thank You in return, but actually verbalizing, or even silently creating sentences in my mind… Not that great. I have a good relationship with my Savior, but would it not be better if I verbalized those thoughts regarding needs and wants, those thoughts that pop into my head hundreds of times each day? Absolutely, my relationship would improve.
Do you remember when (I will use my Dad as an example, but it could be anyone.) you had a few quiet moments with your Dad doing what Dad liked. You are grown up. You have your own thing to do, but you chose what Dad liked instead. All of that was fantastic, but then you look your Dad in the eyes and you say, “Dad, I haven’t said these words in a long time, but Dad, I love you.”
A year later, your Dad might not even remember the round of golf, fishing or hunting trip, whittling a stick of cedar into a spoon, whatever. He will remember the eye contact. He will remember those words. (Hint: This is not my point, but if you need to say those words to your Dad, do it. My Dad has been gone for over seven years. Do you know how much more time you have?)
Your Heavenly Father already knows what you are going to say. He stands outside time and space. He has heard next week’s prayer already. What is needed to answer next week’s prayer was already shipped last week. But He wants to hear from you. He wants to hear the words, coming out of your mouth.
Lord, I have a few things to say. To start with, I love You. I am not worthy of Your love, but I know You love me. Thank You for forgiving me and, please, point out any wrong that I have not forgiven. You know my needs. But one thing I need more than anything is a few minutes to just sit here and talk to You. …
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.