“Dude, where are you at???” I was screaming frantically into my headset as I scanned the battlefield around me in a panic. I was on the wrong side of the map, surrounded by those dastardly Blues, completely vulnerable next to an overturned Warthog that had just been rocked by an explosion and flipped. This was NOT what my friend and I had in mind when we had jumped into the vehicle a few minutes earlier and discussed our battle plan. We had been pinned down by sniper fire, our cowardly teammates had dropped out on us, and it was time for something daring. Our communication was brief and to the point – we’ll hop in the Warthog, I’ll drive while he mans the turret, and we will make a completely unexpected assault on the enemy position from a moving target that would keep their snipers at bay. Create some confusion, run over a couple of Blues if we get lucky, knock out at least one sniper, and change the momentum of the battle. Easy enough. And we had faced down more dire circumstances before, so while there were no guarantees of success we felt pretty confident racing around the corner towards our hopefully shocked victims.
|If he doesn’t respond soon we are as good as dead…|
Only it did not end up that way at all – after a few quick kills we were on the receiving end of a blast that sent our ride spinning wildly and tossing us out into the firing zone. Unable to determine if we had taken the hit from a grenade or a rocket launcher, and even less sure what direction it had come from in the first place, the temporary shelter I was enjoying from the hulking mess that had once been a drivable vehicle now made me a target. And here I am, shouting into a piece of plastic wrapped around my head for help from a friend who was many hundreds of miles away for support. See, we are playing online and are separated by a great distance, and the only hope I have is that he hears me through this $19.99 piece of currently worthless equipment. If he doesn’t respond soon so we can coordinate a counter-attack, we are as good as dead and this battle becomes an unwinnable massacre.
But there is a problem – he ISN’T responding. I am getting nothing through my headset – no sound, no static, just silence. In my current circumstance, I am quite sure a second’s delay will be too long. I don’t know if the issue is on my end or his – all I know is that for all practical intents and purposes I am stranded with no idea what has happened to him – for all I know he died in the crash, got angry, and quit the game in frustration leaving me alone in this battle. It could be my headset has broken, or perhaps his got unplugged – at this point it is immaterial and I really don’t have time to solve the problem. All I know is that I need help, and the only person I had to depend on has gone silent on me. So now what?
|You start to wonder, did God hear me?|
I have a sneaking suspicion this is a familiar emotion each of us have felt at some point or another. Stranded in the midst of an intense situation, without the support you had counted on heading into the circumstances you find yourself in, you feel alone and vulnerable. In desperation, you remember that in times of need you should pray, and God would hear your prayer and deliver you, right? Only, once you have uttered that prayer with the passion of a condemned man on death row pleading his innocence, you are met with…. Silence. No miraculous opening of the heavens, no descending of doves, no thunder or earthquakes, just the uncomfortable quiet that now seems worse than your predicament. And you start to wonder, did God hear me? Is He going to do anything? Is He waiting for me to do something? Will He at least let me know that He heard me? Fear gives way to panic, and then frustration as you continue to find that nothing is improving.
Perhaps it is a loved one in a hospital bed, and you know time is running short. Maybe it is a pile of bills that has finally pulled you under in its vise-like grip, and you see no hope in sight. Or it could simply be a situation that has changed from difficult to unbearable, and you are at the end of your rope. And if things couldn’t get worse, after trying everything you can think of to solve this on your own, your prayers seem to have yielded no fruit as an invisible, silent God seems completely unaware of your plight and the drama that it is causing you. But I have hope for you – God is certainly not silent, he is aware of everything that is going on in your life, and if you will bear with me for just a moment I will show you exactly how He works.
|Both of you are acting in faith in that moment|
As simple as I can put it, prayer is a conversation with God that you can have anyplace, anywhere, and without any preparation. Simply speak to Him as if He was sitting right next to you – because He is! I know what you may be thinking – how do I know He is listening? I don’t want to feel stupid talking to the air. So let me ask you this – how many times have you been standing in line at the grocery store when the person behind you starts berating you LOUDLY for an act of extreme stupidity that you are quite sure you had no part in. You turn around to ask them what their deal is, when you see that telltale sign over their ear – the Bluetooth headset. And you immediately realize they aren’t addressing you at all, but rather are talking to someone else on the other end, potentially anywhere on the globe. Do you realize that both of you are acting in faith in that moment? You are making the educated leap in judgment that this person is in fact speaking to someone else through an electronic device that is transmitting their conversations invisibly through the airwaves. And they are speaking to this other person in faith that they are truly there on the other end, listening and corresponding right back.
Every time you use a phone, send a text message, write an email, or speak into your gaming headset of choice you are using FAITH. You are communicating to someone who is not physically visible to you, and possibly someone you have never met. But you believe in their existence and are utilizing a highly technical service to access them in trust that they will respond. And why do you believe in them or have confidence in their reply? Because you know they exist – you have evidence of their existence and faith in the process you are using to speak to them. You can’t see the person you are talking to, but you speak anyway in anticipation of a response, right? Prayer is no different – although the response may not be immediate and it is not typically audible, your answer will be just as real.
|I knew that he was still out there doing what he had promised he would do|
When we pray, we are sending a message to an invisible but very real God. While we do not physically see Him, proof of His existence is irrefutable to even the most jaded eye. Romans 1:20 explains that the invisible God is made clear to us through the things He has made. If we needed any evidence of a higher intelligence, all you need to do is look at the world around you, the universe that surrounds us, and the incredible miracle of life that each of us contain in our bodies. The fact that you are still standing in spite of everything that has challenged you to this point in your life, and that you are reading these very words right now show His concern and care for you. He is real, His power is evident, and He has intimate knowledge of your situation and what needs to be done. All that is left to do is for you to have the conversation with the Him.
I realized that while I was gaming with my friend online, I was not alone despite the technology around me failing to provide the voice of my fellow Spartan. As I saw two enemy bodies fly over my head, it became clear he had snuck away from the Warthog and managed to drop some grenades on the enemy position above us. The grenades found their target, eliminated the immediate threat and bought me time to maneuver to a safer vantage point. We were still in enemy territory and outnumbered, and our ability to communicate had not improved. But now I knew that he was still out there doing what he had promised he would do, and all I had to do was keep up my end of the deal. I may not have physically SAW what he was doing, but I saw the results, the evidence of his unseen actions, and I knew he was the architect of it. And that is exactly how prayer works, too.
|You have been placing faith in others all of your life in some form or another…|
Few have ever heard the audible voice of God. Fewer still can claim to have viewed the inner workings of answered prayer from God’s point of view. Ultimately, our prayers are an act of faith that we are placing our needs in the hands of our caring and loving Creator, as a child to a parent. We may not understand how it works, any more than a child truly understands how the internal combustion engine works in a car. But the child is confident when they climb into the car that it will start, and that their parent will navigate them to the correct destination. You have been placing faith in others all of your life in some form or another – isn’t it time you place that faith in the One who has your true best interests at heart and has promised never to fail you?
Reach out to Him today with your problems – don’t worry about what you should say or how you should say it. Simply talk to Him as you would to anyone else… confide your concerns and ask for His help. There are no magic words, and there isn’t a wrong way to pray. And once you have finished, be confident that your words have reached His ears and that He is actively working on the resolution. It may take longer than you want, and the hard truth we must accept is that it will not always be the answer we desire. In point of fact, sometimes the answer is “No”. Other times it may be “Not yet”. But you can rest assured that once you have placed your concerns and problems into His hands, they WILL turn out the best way possible. Unlike faulty headsets and traitorous teammates, He will never let you down and the answers to your prayers will always show up right on time!