A pilot was in terrible trouble when he radioed a control tower: “Tower, I am 300 miles from land. I’m about 600 feet off the ground. I’m out of gas. Please instruct.”
The guy in the tower responded, “Tower to pilot. Repeat after me, ‘Our father who art in heaven…”
Unfortunately, that is how many people view prayer. We only do it when we are desperate. Its natural to pray when you have a child in trouble. When your marriage is in crisis. When you hear that they are about to downsize your job. We pray when we wait for biopsies or when we sit in the surgical waiting room. Prayer is done by desperate people.
But you need to realize we are all desperate. Your child is just one bad relationship from trouble. Your world is one bad accident from chaos.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, I translate that one like this: pray all the time. And when you do, God hears and He will answer. (Ephesians 6:18)
Howard Hendricks tells a story about a family in his community. The father felt called to ministry. Quit his job and began to preach. Four boys. Tough times. The youngest, Timmy, said, “Daddy, do you think Jesus would mind if I asked Him for a shirt?”
“Of course not!”
So the family gathered and prayed for a shirt for Timmy. They did something wise: they wrote the request in a notebook and kept it. On one side they wrote, “We ask.” On the other side, “He Answers.” On the “We ask” side, they wrote, “Shirt for Timmy.” Mom even added, “Size seven.”
Every night for weeks they prayed for that shirt. Then one day, the mom got a call unexpectedly from a clothier in downtown Dallas. He said, “I just completed our July clearance sale. Knowing that you have four boys, it occurred to me that I have something you might use. Would you like some boys’ shirts?”
“What size?” the mother asked.
“They’re all sevens,” came the reply.
“How many do you have?”
That night, when Timmy asked to pray for the shirt again, his mother countered, “We don’t have to pray for the shirt, Timmy. The Lord has answered your prayer.” The mom and dad had arranged for the other brothers to bring in the shirts, one at a time and lay them on the bed until all twelve were piled high. Hendricks said:
Today there is a grown man in Dallas who understands the power of prayer.
God is listening. God will answer.