I hate it when my credit card reaches it’s expiry date and I get issued a new one. (First world problem, I know, but stick with me.) I have to update my card information on the online stores I use and if I have a regular charge on my card I have to call the company and give them my new card details. Another thing I hate is answering machines. Beep! and then it’s go-time. Get your message out, but make it snappy! Don’t forget anything or you’ll have to keep calling back and leaving messages like a crazy person! Don’t waffle and take too long or you’ll run out of time and – Beep! The pressure! And all from some little machine!
One time I had to call a company to update my credit card details. I called out of office hours, so I got both of these things at once. I hung up before the answering machine beep, but I wanted to get this taken care of before leaving the flat so I prepared myself to leave a short, concise, clear message describing the situation and asking that they call me back at their convenience so it could be taken care of. I practised what I had to say, making sure I accurately described the situation. Then I called again, waited for the pre-recorded message to finish and for the beep and then I launched into my own pre-prepared message. It went something like this:
“Hi, this is John O’Donnell, I have a standing order with you but my credit card recently expired and I was issued a new one so the details you have won’t work any more. Please call me back as soon as is convenient so I can update my details. My number is 08XXXXXXXX.
I finished the call with a look of frozen horror on my face as I slowly and silently hung up. I said “amen” at the end of a voicemail like some kind of weirdo! What could I do but hang up? The message was out there now on their machine, I couldn’t take it back.
Why did I say “amen” anyway? This wasn’t a prayer. Only, it almost was… it was very like the way I prayed. Thinking about that voicemail I realised that this was how I treated prayer. Instead of a conversation with my Father, I treated prayer like a message fired off to some distant place with all of the essential information necessary to get the job done so I could get on with my day.
Thanks for this, this and this. Sorry about that and that. Please bless this and him and her and me.
Okay, thanks, bye.
Job done. On with my day.
Prayer is not voicemail. When I pray I don’t call through to some distant office where they don’t know me or my situation — I speak to my Father who made me and knows me. I’m not leaving a message to be dealt with later — I am speaking live to a God who can speak back. There is no hanging-up with God. Amen does not mean goodbye — it’s an affirmation that shows that I have meant what I said. My Father is still there, not just on the line but with me throughout the day. God does not go away when I say “amen”.
Thankfully, when the company called me back they were very professional and didn’t mention my “amen”. I am glad though that God did mention it. I’m glad that God loved me enough to show me that this was how I was speaking to Him and call me to stop leaving messages for Someone who is right there with me and closer than I can imagine.