I was driving through town recently and saw a sign at a local church. It was one of those digital signs that scrolled through various messages. One of the messages read, “Prayer Line – Please leave message” then gave a phone number. I had actually seen this before, but this evening something about that message struck me as odd, as just a little bit troubling. I certainly understand the good intention and heart that this church has in providing access to prayer support. And I can understand that it is not possible to staff a prayer line with people 24 hours a day. But the “leave a message” part caused me some sadness.
To the person in need of help, to the one looking for comfort or direction, to the one lost, leaving a message seems cold and impersonal. How would they know if the message was received? How would they know if the prayer was raised? How would they know if anyone really cared? And yet isn’t that how we often treat our own prayers? Doesn’t it seem like when we pray we are simply leaving a message on God’s answering machine and hoping He listens to His messages sometime?
Let me just state clearly – this is not the God I know and worship. He is not some distant deity that we must coerce into responding. He is not aloof and disinterested. Listen to these statements that the Lord Himself makes:
Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3)
That is a tremendous promise and comfort. He is actively waiting for us and ready, eager to answer our call. The Psalms make the same point:
On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:3)
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:1-4)
So, while I would encourage everyone to seek the prayer support of other believers, for there is huge benefit it that, remember that our Lord does listen, He does hear our heart’s cry and He answers. We have a direct connection to Him. There is no need to leave a message. He always picks up our call.