Thursday, February 21, 2013

Keep Talking

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. (Romans 12.12)

The proliferation of wireless technology has fixed it so we never shut up. With smart phone in hand, we can fill up every spare moment with conversation. Either we’re chattering away, texting like houses afire, or shooting back emails. Our time is now so consumed with communication we can’t spare a minute to spell things out. We’re well past quick-typed acronyms and emoticons. Abbreviations now litter our speech. “That’s more than I need to know” has become “TMI.” “She’s my closest friend” is reduced to “BFF.” Where did this talking sickness come from? It’s as though having the capability to talk with anyone, anywhere, at any time unscrewed our corks and we’ve lost all control over torrents of words pouring out of us. We’ve become afflicted with a bottomless need to tell everyone everything, whether or not what we have to say really needs to be said.

Now suppose all these gizmos we’re attached to could only access one number and the responder at the other end was God. Would we be as enthusiastic about technology? Would we use it as freely and frequently as we do with other people? Would lines wrap around the block, with crazed consumers camped out overnight to get their mitts on the latest iPhone? Probably not. Talking to God—or texting or emailing God or scrolling through God’s Facebook posts—doesn’t have the same appeal that bending another human’s ear has. It’s estimated that Americans, on average, spend more than an hour of each day interacting with one another through their mobile devices. Imagine how that figure would plummet if our gadgets were solely dedicated to reaching God. Would we even know how to fill an hour in conversation and exchanging messages with God?

Prayer is the mother of all wireless technologies. And nothing we’ve invented—or ever will invent—can top its reliability and effectiveness. Prayer comes with a time-tested guarantee of no dropped calls. Satellite coverage is never an issue. It never goes to voicemail. Our words never break up. We never have to worry about having the Listener’s undivided attention. It’s never too early or late to call. Indeed, prayer’s technology is so advanced that we don’t even need to open our mouths. We can pray in our heads and the unspoken things on our hearts still reach God. That’s why all our excuses for not praying more make no sense. It’s ludicrous to think we don’t have time to pray, when we can pray whenever we want to tell God something. It’s silly to confine our prayers to certain places, like church or our bedside, as if they’re celestial phone booths. No matter where we are, we are never out of God's reach.

So why aren’t we praying more? Nothing whatsoever is stopping us from staying in frequent contact with our Maker. Maybe it’s because praying feels awkward to us. Maybe we don’t spend more time in prayer because we don’t know what to say. That makes sense. But it also makes sense that the more we pray, the better we get at it. So there may be long stretches of silence. So what? It’s okay to hang on the line with God. The silence can be illuminating. It encourages us to dig deeper and articulate problems and emotions that make us uncomfortable. If what we have to say is too much for God's ears, why would we ever trust another human to handle it?

Romans 12.12 urges, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” We can employ Lent’s focus to alert us to dozens of prayer opportunities that come our way every day. Five minutes here, fifteen there—it all adds up. When a moment to pray presents itself, make the most of it. Consider giving your friends on speed dial a break. Tell God the same things you would say to them. Bend your Creator’s ear every chance you get. Keep talking.

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