Of prayer and phones
I’ve been having mobile phone problems. No one can yet tell me whether it’s the battery or the inner gubbins (circuitry might be a better word), but what happens is that it can suddenly run out of steam and bleep at me for more power. And it’s erratic. Some days it’s fine, and other times it fails me within a few hours.
It’s such a pity, because I used to use the mobile phone as the ideal picture of prayer: being able to talk to someone who’s there but not visible, wherever you are. And you see people doing it, all over the place (would that we all prayed as much!). You have to realise they’re not talking to themselves, any more that we are when we pray. How am I to adjust the metaphor to allow for malfunctions like this?
We are assured that prayer never fails as far as God is concerned, and that he always hears believers’ prayers (Prov 15:8, 29). I suppose it’s true that he refuses to listen to prayers from the wicked or unmerciful (Prov 21:13; 28:9), i.e., those who malfunction according to the circuitry he created us with, or the algorithms and procedural rules by which we’re supposed to work. Could I build that in somehow? It takes too much explaining to be really neat, like a pray-as-you-go phone, but perhaps it fits within the broad outline of the metaphor. Anyway, I’ve got to go and talk with the phone repair guy and see what can be done to find the fault and put it right. I should pray about it too. Meanwhile, if you have any helpful suggestions about any of this, do let me know.
The WEEKLY prayers for December 2018 are:
Week 1 Hullo? The connection’s not too good. Perhaps it’s me. Could you test the line and see what’s wrong, and fix it, or me, or whatever? Yes, yes, I’ll do whatever you say is needed this end. I’d be ever so grateful. Bye.
Week 2 Hullo, is that JER 333? Oh, good. Well, it’s me again. I want to ask you about those things I told you last time. I hope you don’t mind. You know, all those problems. You said to keep asking, so I am. Yes, we’ll talk again.
Week 3 Are you there, Lord? Things still aren’t right, you know. Yes I know you told me it could take time to sort everything out, but please could you send me some more of that peace. I seem to have run out. Thanks.
Week 4 I need to talk, Lord. I’m really glad I was able to get through. What? You’ve been waiting for me to call… never too busy…? Well… I didn’t like to bother… But, yes, I do need to talk… share things… ask you help…
Week 5 Oh hi. This is me. No I don’t want to ask for anything this time, just to thank you so much for being there for me always. And helping when I need. I do appreciate it, really. And I wanted you to know. Thanks!
Your own (dotty) prayers
Faith without works, James famously said, is dead! (Jas 2:17, 26). That cannot be taken to mean that faith in Jesus isn’t important, but if it is to count for anything it must result in changes in us: new faith-driven, or Jesus-led, attitudes and actions – of which there are many kinds:
- Hands-on help for those around us who need it;
- Giving time to go and work with stricken people, here or elsewhere, who may need far more fundamental help with their lives, like victims of disaster (natural or man-made);
- Giving money to support others in worthy causes like these, through trustworthy channels;
- Speaking up for the vulnerable, in speech or writing, that they may be defended against injustice, which may lead us to political involvement, and will require careful understanding of the issues.
- Speaking to God in prayer about all these people, their problems, those in power over them, workers in the field, and about those who organise local programmes of assistance.
One organisation which facilitates all such ‘works’, usually by initiating or by funding and encouraging local church-based initiatives, is Tearfund, whose practical action is motivated by Christian concern. Their aim is to make people better able to cope with the pressures they face. With them you can volunteer, work, learn, lobby, donate and pray. We go to a local Tearfund prayer group in the Shipley area, which meets monthly in one another’s homes, to learn about their work and pray for its furtherance. If you’d be interested, do please get in touch.
Roy Lorrain-Smith (01274 593955)
The WEEKLY prayers for January 2019 are:
Week 1 Father God, who cares profoundly for all your children, present and potential, please make us caring helpers, especially of those in direst need, here or far off. Amen.
Week 2 Father God, making order out of chaos, please help us organise our lives by your priorities, that we may make time for those who need it most, and with caring love. Amen.
Week 3 Father God, Creator, whose resources are lavishly unlimited, please bring us to that point of trust in you that we too may be generous with others, even with our money. Amen.
Week 4 Father God, whose words are our hope, please overcome our shyness to speak up, both in prayer to you and out loud, on behalf of the oppressed, that they may have hope. Amen.
Your own prayers