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DOES HEAVEN REALLY HEAR?

Charles Swindoll tells about a Ziggy cartoon. "Ziggy is standing, looking up on a mountain. The sky is dark and there's one cloud up there. Ziggy says, 'Have I been put on hold for the rest of my life?' " Swindoll continues, "Sometimes prayer feels like that, doesn't it? 'Will You ever answer?' As one man put it. 'The heavens are brass and nothing comes back' " (The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories: Nashville, TN, Word Publishing,  a unit of Thornas Nelson, Inc., 1998;  p455). Revelation 8:3-4 assures us in symbolic but striking language that God does not put us on hold when we pray. In that passage the apostle John watched as "an angel having a golden censer came and stood at the alter. And He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of al I the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand." Earlier in Revelation 5:8, John had viewed a scene in which each of the 24 elders around the throne of God in Heaven had golden bowls, full of incense, which are the prayers of the saintls." Heaven really does hear when we pray! In context, these passages were assuring Christians who were suffering intense persecution that the pain and pressure they were facing and feeling did not mean God had put them on hold or that He was not listening. On the contrary, as the language of John's vision makes clear, the prayers of the saints " ascended before God." Pressures on earth may hinder some Christians from praying, but the pressures and problems of life can never hinder Heaven from hearing those who do!

The Bible calls on us to pray. Ephesians 6:18 says "praying always" and Colossians 4:2 says to continue in prayer" while I Thessalonians 5:17 charges us to "pray without ceasing." These Scriptures do not teach that the child of God can consciously be praying every waking moment of every day, or that we must withdraw, hermit-like,  in an effort to avoid the real world of pressures and problems. What they do teach is that we should live with a conscious recognition of our need for God. At any moment God is only a prayer away! S. D. Gordon said, "The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing, but is the chief thing. The great people of the earth are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer; but/ mean those people who take the time to pray." Heaven really does hear when we pray-so pray today! "IF MY PEOPLE ... PRAY ... I WILL HEAR FROM HEAVEN" (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ