I remember the day my dad first bought a mobile phone. It was so exciting, with its tiny pixelated screen, simple buttons and epic game options (anyone else love playing snake?). It barely fit in the pocket it was so big too, but slightly smaller than the house phone we’d all tried to carry into each room with wires running round every corner! The pure excitement at the feeling of power at your finger tips. We could talk to anyone (who also had a phone) at any time, anywhere.
Fast forward a few years, and there are now 6.8 billion people across the world with smartphones. And when the first iPhone was released, someone cued 110 hours just to get their hands on this state of the art technology. Apple sold over 1 million in 74 days – everybody wanted one. Snake is now a thing of the past, making way for any app or game you can think of. You can choose how you instantly message your friends through tonnes of apps from iMessage and WhatsApp, to Snapchat or Facebook Messenger, through text, photos, voice messages or good old fashioned phone calls.
Thanks in part to Apple (and Samsung for those who passionately prefer it, even if they are
wrong), smartphones have dominated our lives with new exciting updates year upon year that take our ability to connect with each other to new levels. And somewhere cheering us on as we get excited about creatively connecting with one another is God who right from the very beginning, offered us levels of communication technology in prayer Steve Jobs could only dream of.
- No internet connection required – Jeremiah 29 says ‘then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, AND I WILL HEAR YOU’. Wherever you are, whatever the situation, he hears us.
- No expensive monthly payments on a device – in John 14 Jesus encourages us to stick with him and then tells us ‘if you ask anything IN MY NAME, I will do it’. Jesus paid the cost for you.
- No worries when you go through a tunnel or jump in a lift – 1 Timothy 2 says ‘I desire then that in EVERY PLACE the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger and quarrelling’. But keep those holy hands on the wheel if you are going through a tunnel!
- No extra charge if you go over the limit – quite the opposite in fact as we read in 1 Thessalonians that we’re too ‘pray WITHOUT CEASING’.
- We don’t even have to know what to say – Romans 8 says ‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought but THE SPIRIT HIMSELF INTERCEDES FOR US’.
We’ve all had an awkward chat like that were we can’t get our words out, or know what to say in a difficult moment, but better than Siri, the Spirit prays with us. This technology is limitless. Say, think, imagine, shout, draw, write, sing, build or create. Your body already has everything in-built to do it. It’s so powerful, that if you tried to figure out all of its inner workings, patterns or responses you’d have more questions than answers. And those who struggle with technology can even use it – you know who you are.
We have the power at our finger tips to connect, draw near to, ask of, thank, seek, praise the creator of the world. The smartest form of communication you’ll ever know with a direct line to an all-powerful, all-knowing and ever present God who loves us. And yet we neglect it.
If you had God’s number on your phone, would you call or message him, even once in a while? What would you ask?
We have two boys, and every night before bed we pray with them. Normally when we ask what they’d like to pray for and our four year old, Toby, asks for chocolate, lego or just a good nights sleep! But when praying with his mum recently one Saturday night, unprompted Toby asked if we could pray for new families to come to church the next day. After praying once, Toby insisted they do it again.
The next day at church, two new families joined us at The Mount. Both told stories of how they’d felt drawn to coming that morning despite having reasons not to be there. Funny that, isn’t it. It’s that simple, and it works. Pete Greig, in his book ‘How to Pray’ writes ‘after decades of night-and-day prayer, I have come to believe that 99 per cent of it is just showing up, making the effort to become consciously
present to the God who is constantly present to us.’
We overcomplicate it. We neglect it. And ultimately we underestimate and misunderstand the power we have in our grasp through the best form of easy-to-use state-of-the-art technology we have available to each of us. Technology that simply requires us to show up, to be present to use it. Your town, your friends, your family and your own story could be changed through your willingness to pick up the phone. To use what you have available to you at any and every point of the day.
And this opportunity to pray together for St Helens is a call on all of us – so don’t wait for someone else to do it for you who you believe can use the technology better. Keep it simple and let’s make full use of the power at our fingertips for the people of our town.