“This is the place of prayer- on the battlefield of the world. It is a wartime walkie-talkie, not a domestic intercom to increase the comforts of the saints.” –John Piper
There’s an intercom in my house, and it’s pretty awesome. With one push of a button, someone in an upstairs bedroom could talk to someone on the basement patio or the hidden sewing room! It’s a pretty neat little contraption when Mom needs to call all kids to the kitchen to set the table for dinner, but it’s more frequently used by everyone else to repeatedly call Mom’s name in a moment of “crisis” until she finally answers.
Sometimes, as John Piper suggests, we use prayer as an intercom to God. When things are suddenly weighing upon us, we wake up to the existence of prayer, expecting God to be ready to answer at any moment.
When Job’s life was suddenly crumbled and depleted, he cried out to God for an answer. But even after repeated prayers and painful agony, he still received no direct answer. What was going on? Job says,
“I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.” –v. 20
Job got a serious lesson in perseverance. His family was killed, his crops and herds were gone, and he had nasty sores that he scraped with broken pottery… gross. He had absolutely nothing left. After weeks had gone by, Job began to wonder just why God was not answering- and he was given a brutal verbal smackdown by a young man in the community, Elihu, who spoke these words:
“When times get bad, people cry out for help. They cry for relief from being kicked around, but never give God a thought when things go well, when God puts spontaneous songs in their hearts, when God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom, using birds and beasts to teach wisdom. People are arrogantly indifferent to God- until, of course, they’re in trouble, and then God is indifferent to them. There’s nothing behind such prayers except panic; the Almighty pays them no mind. So why would he notice you just because you say you’re tired of waiting to be heard, or waiting for him to get good and angry and do something about the world’s problems?” –vs. 35:9-15 (the Message)
Does this sound all too familiar? When bad things happen to us, we get antsy and want God to fix things immediately. As Piper said, we use prayer as an intercom for immediate access to God and maximum comfort in life. When something in life goes wrong- a death, an illness, financial struggles, losing a job, things don’t go according to plan- we are tempted to complain to God and expect immediate results. I’m sure Job wanted those sores to go away as soon as possible! But we must keep in mind that prayer is a tool we must be constantly using, expecting God’s great plan for you to unfold over the course of your life (not always immediately).
It’s inevitable; bad things will happen in our lives. Things that we least expect are going to hit us. But even so, we must be patient and wait for the Lord’s timing to answer (and it may not always be an answer we want to hear).
I love James 5:16- “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful & effective.” God does hear our prayers at all times, and He is moved by them. But we must be continually offering up our prayers to Him (in good and bad times), much like a soldier sends messages to his commander through a wartime walkie-talkie. We communicate to God, and God communicates to us- although He may not always answer with the fluffy answers we expect!
God does eventually answer Job’s cries… but we’ll see what He answers with in Part 3!