A Picture of Prayer When Your Life Depends on God

Hint: It includes back and forth conversation and text messages

“My journaling got cut off yesterday by a phone call from Adam,” I had written in my journal. “He planned to go to Publix as soon as it opened and didn’t think he’d be able to buy everything on the list I’d provided for the $100 I’d loaded on the gift card.”

For the record, my list included mostly vegetables, a pumpkin pie, a gallon of milk. No meat. No wine. A loaf of bakery bread to accompany the lasagna I would make. (I had purchased what I needed to make the lasagna.) But my son — housesitting while we were on vacation — thought I was out of touch with the cost of food. (Amusing.)

So though I was quite certain celery and carrots wouldn’t put him in a predicament at the checkout line, I was also pretty sure I didn’t need to go through the trouble of making a vegetable platter for the guests we would host on Christmas Day.

“Skip the vegetables and the dip,” I told him. I didn’t want him stressed.

Steve and I were vacationing at the beach, returning home on Christmas Day. Before we left, I had typed out a list of instructions for our son plus left him the Publix gift card so he could purchase what we needed for Christmas. Adam would do the last-minute shopping and preparation for our holiday meal in my absence.

By the time we ended the call, I had no time to finish journaling. I had just enough time to get to the beach for my habitual sunrise walk. It was one in which the heavens would surely declare the glory of the Lord. I did not know that the day’s conversation would make me marvel in Him as well.

Back and forth via text and calls

But just as I stopped to shoot a photo of the sunrise and start the return walk back to the condo, Adam called again. He’d arrived at the grocery store when it opened — and the bakery wasn’t yet stocked. No crusty bread for our meal. Oh no!

I suggested frozen artisan rolls instead, which Adam found as we spoke. Then he spotted some French bread cooling behind the bakery counter and asked for one. Done.

Later, we texted back and forth about him blowing and raking — additional tasks Adam could do to earn money if he wanted. When I suggested he ask my daughter if she would bake a cake for our oldest son’s birthday, he offered to make it himself.

More texting. About ingredients. My mom’s chocolate icing recipe. Pan size — 9 x 13, I said. Round pans — he countered.

“Anything I need to know to do this?” my son texted. (He’d never baked a cake before.) “Or do I just follow box instructions? How do I get the cake out of the form?”

“Follow box instructions. Use spray Pam to grease,” I texted. “Might call for a little flour too.”

“Flour to grease the pan?”

I pushed the phone icon to speak with Adam. Sometimes text is not enough. I coached him through the location of each ingredient and tool he would need, including the Pampered Chef garlic slicer he would use to shave the unsweetened chocolate squares needed for the frosting.

About an hour later, he asked me to ask Steve which container had the gasoline for the blower via text.

“He’s going to call you.”

The day’s communications in a different light

It was a day of constant communication with our son that started with his concern that the gift card I’d provided wouldn’t be enough to cover what I’d asked him to purchase. As I reflected the next morning, I saw the day’s back and forth with one another as this:

“A great picture of life as a believer in Jesus, except maybe the anxiety that the $100 gift card wouldn’t cover the cost of the groceries on my list,” I wrote. “Or maybe that’s exactly it!”

I had a sudden realization of God’s truth.

“How often do we think we’ve out-sinned or overspent our portion of God’s grace?” I thought. “The gift card — the gift God gave us in His Son’s birth, death, and resurrection — covers us completely. We aren’t going to reach the cashier in heaven and find we don’t have enough grace. We’re covered.”

The entire day’s communications then became a picture to me of life as a believer dependent on God. I’ve struggled with what that should look like. “Prayer” can seem so, well, religious. Even if I manage to make it seem like a conversation with Him, I tend to get that “done” in the morning and then get busy with my day. Often living in my own strength.

If you don’t struggle with that, maybe this isn’t the aha moment it was for me. But the lightbulb in my brain lighted when I realized our communications were a picture: Adam represented believers and Steve and I represented God in our conversation.

This is the picture:

Adam was trying to accomplish our will by following our letter detailing what we needed him to do while housesitting. (Much as a Christian reads the Bible and tries to obey it.)

He wanted to do what we wanted. He read our letter and the grocery list I sent. He checked in via text (reading and writing) and when he needed immediate information, he called — throughout the day, as he moved from one task to another.

When we realized a text wasn’t enough, we called to speak directly to him.

God gives us His love letter — His Word — that tells us what to do. We seek to do His will but we need Him. His power. His insight. His Spirit. We find we need to communicate with Him throughout the day. Maybe we re-read His text to see if we are on the right path. Maybe we call Him for help or direction.

Sometimes He calls us — audibly? whispers to our soul? through other people or music? — because He knows we need a direct message. We need Him.

I know prayer is just talking with God — or writing to Him, as I do so often. But this picture of an ongoing back and forth conversation with Him — initiated by me and by Him? Helpful. To me, at least.

May I pray for you and me?

Dear Father, thank you for the quiet moments, the opportunities to read your love letter to us. Thank you for revealing your truth through things we understand — such as the communications I had with Adam. Thank you that you want our texts and calls — and that you speak through your text, the Bible, and in many other ways. Remind us that we can communicate with you all day long. And the conversation works both ways! In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.


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