Two Weeks Later

See the source image
(Image courtesy of pinterest)

I write this two weeks after getting the first of two Moderna vaccinations against Covid 19 and am glad to report that none of my God-given appendages have fallen off nor have I sprouted a third eye (or anything else, for that matter).

Let me be clear at the outset, I am aware and understand that some people have heath issues that make getting vaccinated a risk to them. As always, I encourage folks to follow closely the instruction and direction of their medical care providers.

I write this today to those who may have a more general misgiving about this particular vaccination. As I stated in an earlier blog, I did some research and more importantly spent some time praying about this. My prayer was specific in that I asked God to reveal to me any reason I should hesitate to receive the shot. I have been blessed to be a person of prayer for some time now and have come to have a deep trust in the God I pray to. So when nothing negative was revealed to me, I gladly rolled up my sleeve.

Trusting in God was not only key in my decision to get vaccinated, but it is also my default setting whenever there are decisions to be made in my life. “That’s great for you, your a pastor guy,” you might be thinking. Believe me, my calling has no special bearing in getting heard from above. Really, the trust is built as it is in any relationship: Getting to know the other person in a deeper way.

I know of only one way in which to do this; that is to take the time needed to nurture it. With other people, it usually involves asking questions, listening to the responses and watching to see if what is said matches up with how they live their life. If I see inconsistencies, I will withhold the appropriate amount of trust.

But if their sincerity is matched with integrity, the door is wide open to walk through. I have applied this same approach with my relationship with God. I have found that He is who He says He is and His working in my life and the lives of countless others has backed up what He has promised.

I started writing this earlier in the day solely to encourage you to be thoughtful about getting vaccinated against Covid 19 when it becomes available to you. I firmly believe it is the next right thing to do, not only for yourself, but also those with whom you share life.

But as I wrote, I seem to have moved into another recommendation: to seek out the God of heaven. And not just to seek His guidance about getting the shot, but also to encourage you to step out in faith and develop your end of the relationship He offers you. He is there and patiently waiting, even if I should develop something untoward like an eyestalk.

Be blessed and be a blessing (get the shot!)

Pastor Chuck

C’mon Guys, man up!

See the source image
(image courtesy of corrieredellosport.it)

Please note that the following is based solely on my personal experience. There is no scientific research involved.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I received the first vaccination against the Covid 19 virus on December 29th. Like I said then, this was not a decision I made lightly. I spent some time in prayer, seeking God’s leading and I did a fair amount of research into the safety of these shots. I came away convinced beyond any doubt that not only were the vaccinations safe, but also that by taking the shot I was living out God’s command to love others as I protect myself and them from spreading this illness.

Actually I was at the hospital where the vaccine is being dispensed twice last week. On Tuesday for my shot, and on Wednesday as I brought one of the residents from the halfway house where I work to get his.

They seem to have a good system going at the local hospital as I was there only about 25 minutes each time. It was during these two visits that gave me the inspiration to write today.

Over those two days I saw approximately 50 people who were either in the fast moving line to register or in the conference room where we waited our 15 minutes to make sure no one had any adverse reactions once inoculated (no one did when I was there).

It was the wide discrepancy in the ratio of women to men that really caught my attention. Counting myself, I saw only 3 males getting vaccinated over those two days I was there. I realize that a large percentage of health care workers are female, but if my total count was accurate, only 6% of those I saw get inoculated were men. Where were they all?

Hence the title, C’mon guys, man up! Roll up your sleeves and get it done. Whatever excuses you may have for not doing this, I am asking that you think again. I had zero side-effects, not even a sore arm. Nor have I sprouted a third eye or have any of my God-given appendages fallen off.

And seriously, during these times when so many have felt so helpless and vulnerable, I believe this is an extremely practical way to show care for your fellow humans. I spoke to a nurse I know earlier and told her I got the shot in part so that I would be one less person she would have to care for. Tears filled her eyes as she thanked me. So c’mon guys, lets do this. If not for yourself, do it for your family, friends and those frontline workers who have given so much of themselves over the previous 10 months combatting this pandemic.

There needs to be a lot of folks getting the Covid shot if we are going to put this issue to bed. I am encouraging everyone who has doubts to do as I did: pray and do research and then ultimately look past just yourself to the larger community around you.

Thank you. Be blessed. And be a blessing by getting vaccinated when it becomes available to you.

Pastor Chuck

Let’s Rise From the Rubble Again

See the source image
image courtesy of pinterest)

I was only a toddler when President Kennedy was assassinated. My only knowledge of that tragedy has come from what I have read and the things my parents told me about those days. I did not experience the shock, horror and sadness the country did.

The events of 9-11-2001 were entirely different for me. I remember where I was (in an industrial paint spray booth, painting dump trucks) when a co-worked told me.

After work that day I sat for hours watching, trying to come to grips with what had happened and worried about what was next. I recall the conversation on the phone with my Dad as his voice quaked in a mixture of outrage and fear.

Getting our two young children ready for bed that night was a challenge as well.

The images of the ensuing days as the rubble burned and smoldered are forever etched in my memory. Many of us prayed for those who might still be alive in all that carnage, that they be discovered quickly.

As the days passed and turned into weeks, then months, our nation began to emerge from the rubble. In my lifetime I had never experienced the national unity we were feeling. We, as a nation had been attacked. And from the rubble, came a resolve to care for one another simply because we were all Americans. We had been hurt and we were scared. But we were together. We wanted justice and we strived to care for one another in the process.

Nineteen years later, we are buried in rubble once again. This time the explosions of hate have come from within. The unity were knew as a country as been obliterated. The idea of helping a stranger simply because they need help and we could provide it is completely foreign to most in these dark days.

My fervent prayer today is that we as a nation can once again rise up from the rubble. The wreckage of racial hatred, the senseless violence and the fractured state of national politics have buried us. There is seemingly no light, no one working feverously to free us from what appears to be total collapse.

Thankfully, there is someone, and His name is Jesus! Only He can lift the boulders of hate and distrust from our hearts. Only He has the power to unite us truly and eternally, not only as a nation, but as a world-wide body of believers.

I am asking you, Dear Reader, if you know Jesus as your Savior, to join with me today. Please pray that our nation rises from the rubble again. Not only rises, but stands united with Christ as it’s headship and that a true spirit community replaces distrust and disunity.

Are we asking for a lot? Yes we are. We are asking for something that is beyond any human power to achieve. That being said, allow me to leave you with the words of Jesus Himself as He discussed matters that were above the capabilities of mankind:

“With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 NIV)

Thank you for reading and for praying,

Pastor Chuck

Don’t be a Blockhead

See the source image
(Image courtesy of amazon.com)

Like millions of others, I am a fan of Charlie Brown. I still make time to watch the Christmas and Halloween specials each year when they are aired on network T.V. Again, like so many, I find it easy to empathize with this shy character and inwardly cringe at the insult, “You’re a blockhead, Charlie Brown,” every time I hear it, especially considering CB didn’t deserve to be called that.

That really is quite the insult as it questions the intelligence of the target. There is no mistaking the intent when that word is thrown at someone; it is a direct put down.

Jesus, being more polite than most, didn’t use quite that term when he called Peter out for something he had said. But make no mistake, the Lord wanted to get his disciple’s attention when in response to Peter’s claim that Jesus should never go through with the idea of being put to death. The last thing I ever want to hear from the Son of God is, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me.” (Matthew 16:23 NIV).

Leaving alone the fact that Jesus refers to Peter, the man one paragraph above this quote He said He was going to use as the rock on which He would build His church, as Satan; the Lord tells the befuddled Peter that he is a stumbling block to the salvation plan.

It might have hurt Peter less if Jesus had called him a blockhead instead of a stumbling block. The word the Lord said Peter was to Him meant that he was an obstacle to a cause. From this word we get the word scandalous today. Of all the things I can think Jesus might call me, being an obstacle to His plans is not one I want to hear. Causing a scandal over Jesus by something I erroneously have said, even less so.

And not to omit that Jesus referred to one of His devoted followers as Satan, we must consider (as always!) the context of the narrative. What Peter said, in what the Bible says was in the form of a rebuke, sounded awfully close to what Satan had said to Jesus as he tempted the Lord in the desert just after His baptism. Satan had shown Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, telling Him he could be ruler over them all, if only the Lord would worship him. Like Peter, Satan was saying Jesus could avoid the awful suffering awaiting Him by taking a softer, easier way to His destination.

Jesus would have none of that from the devil, and He certainly didn’t want to entertain the idea from Peter. God had/has/will have the perfect plan; we need to trust that in order to not stumble into the way of it being carried out.

Somewhat easier said than done, however, for me anyway. After all, I make most of my plans after some thought, looking into possible outcomes as best I can. I do not think I would ever intentionally be a stumbling block to anyone, let alone the Lord Jesus Christ and His plans.

Still, if I go about my most careful planning without seeking any divine direction or influence by not praying about it, I can in fact have the outcome of that plan be something that causes a stumble off the Lord’s path; and it’s me who would be the most likely to trip and fall because of it!

Like many, I do most of my best learning from my mistakes, and having the occasional stumble-block result from my ideas has helped me to eliminate some of my tendency to make similar mistakes again.

So, if I were not to learn from my errors and slips in the past, I could be aptly called a blockhead after all!

Blessings and thanks from reading,

Pastor Chuck

What, me worry?

See the source image

(image courtesy of jokes-battles.wikia.com)

Many of my generation grew up reading Mad magazine. Therefore the iconic face of Alfred E. Neuman was not only easily recognized, many of us tried to play the part of being care-free about everything. Never much of an actor, I was not particularly good at hiding my worries.

Looking back, I realize that my worries were for the most part shared by my friends, we just wouldn’t show the weakness of uncertainty in front of each other. Hindsight has also revealed to me that my worries were quite similar to those of my adolescent peers: Girls, popularity, making money, getting a car, etc. Worrying about things seemed as natural as any other aspect of growing up.

I actually developed a much greater conflict over my worries once I became a Christian. I began to read the Bible and in so doing came across verses such as: Cast all your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22) and, When I am afraid, I will trust in you (Psalm 56:3).

I had naively assumed that once I had broken with my past life of debauchery to try my best to follow Jesus and His teachings, life would become a utopia. The worries of life, many of which still kept me awake at night, were going to simply melt away as bliss dominated my existence.

As the days of being a Christian turned into months and then years, my worries still far outweighed any times of care-free life. Oh, I had learned to put the brave face on, or maybe it was the smiling face of my childhood buddy Alfred E., when asked how things were in my life. But inside, the worries of providing for my family and how to be a good husband and dad were constant companions.

Thankfully, God knows me better than I do myself and His faithfulness knows no bounds. He continued to put caring people into my life who helped me, through the instruction of example, that living life with the confidence of God’s care and protection was possible.

My wife, Betsy, took the lead in helping me. Her calm demeanor was a direct result of her practicing her faith daily. Her long-term daily reading of the Scriptures opened up her heart and mind to the goodness of the Lord, and she lived it right in front of me, as she does to this day.

Eventually, I took up the practice of daily Bible reading. God, knowing that I am often a slow learner, has taken His time with me as I spent time in His word. The passage of Scripture that continues to help me with my tendency to worry first, pray later is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

Clearly, God wants me/us to take everything to Him in prayer, not just the needs and emergencies that tend to crop up. The instruction to not be anxious about anything is virtually impossible to perfect, but we can more than counter that by continually going to the Almighty. The direction to do this with thanksgiving also quiets my worries. When I remember to be thankful to God, much of the urgency or unmanageability of a situation lessens.

The next promise that our faithful God fulfills when we humbly come before Him expressing our needs and desires, is to guard our hearts and minds. The original Greek word translated guard carries with it a sense of shielding one from trouble. Because it is God who does the shielding, this becomes so much more than merely deflecting a problem away. In His divine providence, God will literally shield our minds from dwelling on an issue, which in turns allows us to come to the realization that He has protected us. This level of trust in our loving God helps us to not want to bury our heads in the sand hoping things will change, but rather to seek the shelter that His loving arms can provide.

As with most everything I attempt, I find keeping one of the ideas from Alcoholics Anonymous in the forefront of my mind helps: to seek progress, not perfection. I still find myself worrying over things and projecting negative outcomes that rarely come about. The progress I’ve made is that I fall into this trap far less often than I used to.

So Alfred E., like you I really do not have to worry and blessedly, being that I’m real and you are a cartoon caricature, I can keep turning to this Awesome God who daily invites me to travel through life with Him. By taking Him up on this invitation, I can know that my heart and mind are protected by Him as He gives me a peace I will never understand this side of heaven. Not to worry, everything will be revealed on the other side!

Blessings and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

God Answers our Prayers!

See the source image

(Image courtesy of blogspot)

When we last met, Dear Reader, the discussion had to do with the question of whether or not God hears our prayers. This is an extremely important question for anyone who would venture into a communication with the Most High God. Because of its importance, the Almighty gives us clear answers that He does indeed hear all prayers offered to Him. If you recall, I offered just a few of the myriad passages from the Bible that clearly state that God hears what is spoken to Him in prayer.

However, the next logical question, “Does He answer every prayer?” does not come with such a distinct answer. To be clear from the start, I wholeheartedly believe that our Heavenly Father does answer our prayers. The confusion on this point comes from us: What are our expectations? Do we trust God to answer? How do we know it’s Him answering? Why do I have to wait for an answer? Is ‘No’ sometimes the answer He gives?

These are valid questions that people have been asking with for centuries. As I said, I believe that God does answer every prayer. He is omnipotent; therefore He has the ability to do this. God is love; therefore He has the heart to answer them all.

The responsibility to receive/understand/accept the answer falls squarely on our shoulders. Far too many people, in my opinion, keep God in a small box, calling on him only when they are faced with some great or sudden need. This shallow approach to faith seems to think that God is far off somewhere, doing who knows what, and that He has a magic button to push to fulfill our request when we send it.

No, God is not a cosmic yes-man. Rather, He is magnificent beyond words and completely beyond us. Yet, His desire is for us to get to know Him as best we can. His heart is for us to enter into a loving and caring relationship with Him. Within this relationship is the on-going invitation to speak to Him through our prayers.

By being intentional about spending time to develop the relationship with God on our end is how we can get to know more of the depth of God’s character. The better we know Him, the easier it becomes to trust Him. Our ability to trust will coincide with the depth our relationship with God. Would you trust a stranger with your hearts deepest desire? Of course not. Don’t keep God at arms-length in your life. At the risk of over-simplifying the profound depth of God’s desire for us to deepen our relationship with Him, consider this: We cannot learn to trust Him until we begin to trust Him.

As our relationship with the Almighty grows, we begin to have the ability to better discern how He is answering our prayers. Seeing ‘No’ as an answer becomes a little clearer, if not easier to take. Again, trust is the key. God, who is outside the restriction of time you and I live under, knows the future. With this knowledge, He is the best (and only) one capable of seeing all the repercussions of what we are asking.

A growing faith will develop more of this important trust. This then helps us to be a little more patient as we await a particular answer to prayer. I far too often still want what I want when I want it. I am learning, ever so slowing, that God always has my best interest in mind. Because He does, His answer, be it “yes, no or let’s wait on that,” is exactly what I need.

Be assured, I haven’t gotten to this place in my relationship with God overnight, and I still have miles to go before I get to the depth I believe He wants me to get to. My encouragement to you is this: No matter where you find yourself in your faith life, be intentional about growing closer to God, for as you get closer to Him, you get closer to the answer(s) He has for you.

Blessings and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

Hey God, are you listening to me?

See the source image

(Image courtesy of WordPress)

Generally when I, or I suspect most people, ask another, “Are you listening to me,” we want to make sure our point was received or to get a positive response way more than simply wondering if what was said was in fact heard.

I believe the same principle applies when we pray. Our desire is to not only get the Almighty’s attention, but also to get the response to our prayer that we want.

I am also aware that many followers of Christ have spent lots of time earnestly praying for others as well as themselves. I have been asked more than once by these folks if God really listens to our prayers. I realize that the companion question to this is, ‘Does God answers all our prayers?’ Though I am confident that He does, the purpose of this particular blog is to address the inquiry of whether or not God is listening to our prayers.

Though the anecdotal evidence I have gathered through years of ministry point to a resounding ‘Yes!,’ that God is listening, I believe going to the one true source, the Bible, will give us the clearest and infinitely more reliable answer. Please know that the following in no way exhausts the truth found in Scripture pertaining to God hearing our prayers, but it is my hope that these few examples will eliminate any doubt lingering in your heart or mind (Spoiler alert: God is always listening!)

Clear proof that God is listening can be found in the Book of Daniel, Chapter 9, verses 22- 23 record this message being delivered to Daniel by the angel Gabriel: “Daniel, I have now come to give you understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.” (NIV)

Notice how quickly the answer was made; as soon as you began to pray. There is no call waiting with God, no need to leave a voice mail, He is listening.

Here’s an example of one of those long time, devout people I mentioned earlier found in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke learning that God is always listening. Zechariah, who was to become the father of John the Baptist, had been praying to God for a son. He continued this fervent prayer even though he and his wife Elizabeth were now quite old. As we soon learn, age and circumstance pale in the face of the Almighty’s power and plans. One day, as Zechariah, a priest, was about his duties in the temple, an unnamed angel appeared to him: When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.” (Luke 1:12-13 NIV)

Once again, prayer was heard. There is so much more to consider here in this particular passage, but I’ll leave it for another time except to say isn’t cool that the angel knew both Zechariah and his wife by name? This tells me that our prayers are not going to some faceless call-center, but rather are being received personally and with great care.

That is just two examples of prayers being heard. I take great encouragement from them (even if an angel has not been sent to me to deliver the answer!). As if the evidence of Daniel and Zechariah having their prayers heard were not enough, Jesus Himself shines the light of truth on the matter. Immediately before calling His friend Lazarus back to life, the Gospel of John records Jesus saying the following about being heard by the Father: So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42 NIV)

Jesus, in complete assurance of what He said was heard by the Father, spoke those words for the benefit of the crowd gathered there and for us. God is listening, always.

Here is one more example, this time from Father God Himself. In 2 Chronicles Chapter 6, there is recorded a long prayer that King Solomon prayed as He and the people dedicated to God the newly completed temple. Please take the time to read this prayer as it is a wonderful example of what our heart position should be when we approach the Almighty in prayer.

Then in Chapter 7, we read that the dedication is over and the people have been dismissed to their homes. It is then that God appears to Solomon and says, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.” (2 Chronicles 7:12 NIV)

No angel was sent to Solomon with an answer. Rather, God Himself delivered the message that the prayer offered had been heard.

As stated earlier, this barely scratches the surface of biblical evidence of God hearing prayers. But, you might be thinking, Daniel and Zechariah were notable characters. Maybe their standing moved their prayers up the line faster than those of ordinary folks like you and me.

Not to worry. Our limited and finite abilities as humans to take in information influences how we think God can. Never forget, He is omnipotent. He is limitless, we are limited. Because of His infinite capacity to care for us, He is able to hear all our prayers as we pray them.

I hope these thoughts on whether God hears us when we pray brings you some comfort in this regard. Next time we’ll consider if God answers all our prayers. Until then, keep on praying: God is listening!

Blessings,

Pastor Chuck

Teach Me to Pray

See the source image(image courtesy of bing images)

To the question, “Why pray?” I wrote that Jesus Himself prayed, concluding that if the Son of God saw value in praying, you and I should as well.  The next question for us to ponder was, “Does anyone listen to my prayers.” Once again, Jesus provides the comforting answer: Yes, prayers are heard in heaven!

Taking these first two examples as being the encouragement to pray, wouldn’t the logical next question be: “How do I pray?”

The disciples of Jesus believed it was. They had followed Jesus for a while and had seen Him go off to pray by Himself many times.  They understood, at least partially, that this was a practice they ought to partake in as well.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.  When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

Jesus then answered their request with what we have come to know as the Lord’s prayer:

Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  3Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.  And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:2-4)

Many people have been taught this prayer (or something close based upon which Gospel and translation you use) at an early age.  For me, I learned the words, in their proper order, so that I could recite it when asked to.  I have since come to believe that Jesus was after a little more than rote memorization as He answered the disciple’s request to teach them how to pray.

Before I go any further, let me be clear, I am not promoting a formula that must be followed to have our prayers heard.  Rather, I am suggesting that we use the Lord’s Prayer as a guideline.  Please recall in the first of this series about prayer when we stated that prayer is simply a two-way communication between God and the person praying.  Jesus was teaching His followers, both then and now, the great importance of getting oneself prepared to converse with the Almighty.

Thinking along this line, let’s reconsider Jesus’ teaching on how to pray.  First and foremost, prayer is all about us recognizing Who it is we are praying to.  We are not clicking on a name in our phone book, or chatting with a buddy over coffee, but rather coming to speak and listen to the God of the Universe.  Hence, ‘Father’ is a term of deserved respect.  We then recognize God’s perfect holiness when we say ‘hallowed be thy name.’  Jesus is teaching that in order to get our hearts ready to pray, we need to approach God with all the reverence we can muster.

Next Jesus says to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come (other gospels add ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’). Praying this is an admittance on our part that the world in which we live needs God!  All the centuries of humankind following its own will instead of seeking God’s has left this world in a sorry state.

Jesus then emphasizes the need to further personalize our conversation with the Father.  Asking to ‘give us our bread’ is another way of acknowledging that only God can give us what we truly need on a daily basis.

As we state our everyday need of God’s provision, we are then to humbly ask Him to forgive us our sins.  Obviously, this extremely personal point will differ from one person to the next.  Remember, it is our heart position in respect to God that Jesus wants us to recognize.  As we find the perfect forgiveness God extends, we then honor Him by forgiving those who have wronged us. (Easier said than done, I know; but holding on to resentments or unforgiveness only hurts us, not the other person)

Finally, after experiencing the freshness that only God’s forgiveness can bring, we ask God to not lead us into temptation (a more accurate translation of that word may be trials). If we are praying along the lines Jesus instructs us to, we can experience an ever-deepening relationship with our Maker.  Praying as Jesus suggests teaches us to keep things in a clearer perspective.  If we are making an effort to put God first in our lives, I believe He will help us to do so.

Jesus wants you and me to excel in communicating with the Father.  Following His instructions with regard to how we ought to pray will allow us to get as close to God as we desire.  I believe that many of the questions and struggles of life can be best met when we do so with the assurance that can come as a result of prayer.

Why pray? Jesus did! Does anyone really hear my prayers? God does! Want to learn how to pray? Use the outline Jesus provides to develop your personal prayer life!

Blessings,

Pastor Chuck

 

Prayer: Is Anybody Listening?

See the source imageimage courtesy of bing images

Yesterday I stated that the fact that Jesus prayed ought to be encouragement enough for all of us to communicate in the same way with the Almighty.  After all, if the Savior of the world understood the significance of taking the time to pray, shouldn’t we follow His example?

Of course I think we should, but I also get the fact that this is not a cut and dried issue for all.  Many people wonder if God really does hear their prayers.  I’ve been told countless time by folks that they just don’t seem to get answers to their requests to God.  That in itself is subject for its own conversation, but for today let us boil it down to this: When I pray, is anyone listening?

Here’s the short answer: Yes!  I have been blessed to have many prayers answered (and remember, No is an answer).  I have been privileged to have many share with me how God had answered them.  This is all well and good for the purpose of this blog, but like yesterday, why not go directly to the top!

Jesus, just before He brought Lazarus back to life, stopped to pray to His Father.  John’s gospel records it like this:

Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41b-42)

Jesus knew that God the Father always heard Him as He prayed.  Alright, you might be thinking; but Jesus was the Son of God.  Wouldn’t He have an inside line to talk with His Dad? Of course He did! But don’t miss the bigger point here; God the Father was/is listening.

Still not sure that the line is open to you? Check out what these everyday folks found out about who is listening to their prayers.  Zechariah, who was to be the Father of John the Baptist, was visited by the angel Gabriel who personally let the old guy know that his prayers had been heard;

But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. (Luke 1:13)

Want more evidence that the prayer line is receiving calls? Cornelius, a centurion in the Roman army who became a follower of Jesus, had an angelic encounter in response to his prayers:

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. (Acts 10:4)

Pretty cool, I think! Here we are told that God Himself has heard this man’s prayers (to say nothing of the fact that He also is aware of the other things Cornelius has been doing).

These examples are wonderful, but what if you haven’t had an angel deliver an answer to you directly.  I’d say you, like me, are in the vast majority.  God, in His wisdom, uses the angelic messengers when He sees best, so take them as the encouragement they are meant to be, not the norm of how God responds.  But whether or not Gabriel comes knocking, please know that God does hear your prayers.
Blessings,

Pastor Chuck