By Rev. Deanna Woodward
Maple Leaf Parish
United Methodist Churches of Cherry Grove, Fountain, Preston and Spring Valley
How do you feel when you call a business to ask a question and get one of those recordings? You know, the kind that lists a long menu of options that may or may not lead to a live person on the other end of the line? Have you ever wondered what it would be like if God decided to install voicemail?
I read something by an unknown author who described what it might be like if God installed voicemail to answer our prayers. Imagine praying and hearing this:
“Thank you for calling Heaven. Please select one of the following options: Press 1 for requests; Press 2 for Thanksgiving; Press 3 for Complaints; Press 4 for All Other Inquiries. I am sorry, all of our angels are busy helping others right now. However, your prayer is important to us and will be answered in the order in which it was received, so please stay on the line. If you would like to speak to God – press 1, to Jesus – press 2, to The Holy Spirit – press 3. If you would like to hear King David sing a Psalm while you are holding, please press 4. To find out if a loved one has been assigned to Heaven: press 5. Enter his or her Social Security number, then press the pound key. If you get a negative response, try area code 666. For nagging questions about dinosaurs, the age of the earth, and where Noah’s Ark is, please wait until you arrive here. For reservations in Heaven, please enter J-O-H-N, followed by the numbers 3-1-6. Our computers show that you have already prayed once today. Please hang up and try again tomorrow. This office is closed for the weekend to observe a religious holiday. Please pray again Monday after 9 a.m. If you are calling after hours and need emergency assistance, please contact your local pastor.”
Our hope is that God will never install such a system. Psalm 46: 1 says that, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” God is always available to answer our prayers. We need to be in touch with God for many different reasons. We pray for comfort in times of pain, for direction when we don’t know which way to turn, for help when our strength fails us, for courage to keep on trying when things are going wrong, for someone to talk to when we’re lonely. And we pray to thank God and share our happiness when something wonderful occurs!
In stressful times such as ours, it’s good to know that prayer is available to anyone, anytime, anywhere. And we should listen as well as speak to God. Also, when we are close to someone, there are times when no words are needed or adequate, and so we just absorb the peace and comfort of being in their company. This is also true of our relationship with God.
So give God a call – no phone or computer needed. And, the line is always open.