The Technical Side of Prayer.

Every tine I hear the Gospel ditty, "Turn your Radio on" I imagine how gratifying it was for Christian apologists when radio was invented. We'd been describing to a sceptical world the unseen, unheard conversation with God, and suddenly science gave them a powerful analogy.

Technically prayer is like radio in ways beyond the invisible medium. Radio has to tune into a specific frequency, and filter out noise. Anyone who has struggled to hear God knows this is true. "Be still and know that I am God." Ever tried to shut off the fire hydrant of thoughts, and distractions in your life and mind? It's pretty much impossible. What can we do?  Before I go full technical, just think on this: Quietness is not always the absense of sound. The stillness of forest, stream, or waves on shore is more peaceful than the utter silence of a tomb. There is something about the right sounds that bring peace and stillness of mind even to the most troubled heart. The soft breath and pulse of a sleeping baby is inexpressible peace

A radio receiver doesn't try to shut out all the other frequencies, instead it aligns with the frequency it wants to receive. Voices and music (+ internet and video)  ride on carrier waves. The receiver matches the carrier wave and is able to focus on the signal.  if the receiver creates the right "noise." it is able to filter out the bad noise from the environment.  It only needs to do one more thing: avoid adding it's own noise to the signal. In electronics that involves capacitors, and filter circuits and all kinds of neat things above my pay grade.

For prayer, the carrier signal is not a frequency but an attitude of gratitude, humility, faith and love. That's it. "In everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving make your requests to God. And the Peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus" In this verse, Paul recommends the stillness of thanksgiving rather than the impossible stillness of an empty mind. Be thankful and the communication with Jesus Christ will be clearer and clearer. 

The noise that obstructs our communication is likewise not a burst of static, a spike in voltage nor even the cacphony of modern life: it stems from a  number of sources rooted in our own souls. Malice, worry, envy, arrogance and contempt are commonly listed in scripture aas barriers to every relationship, and most especially to our communion with God. These can be hard to eliminate but it's not impossible. Repentence through confession to God is given as a way to be free of every sin that rages against clean and clear communication with God (and anyone else for that matter!)

So when you want to pray - to talk to and listen to God - there is really only one way - let Scripture align you with the 'frequency' God is using: Jesus' 'signal' pattern of gratitude love, humility and faith. Then we can let grace and forgiveness absorb the static of malice, et al.

You've alreaday been getting through to God - his reception is pure and clear because of his holy, perfect love - and as you learn from him these things, you will find, in peace of mind and heart, clearer and clearer messages of Grace and guidance from the Lord. 

"Darn it!" If you hear me say it under my breath, thinking I was keeping my thoughts to myself, you may conclude that I have rather insipid curses. 

But you'd be wrong on both points. It's not a curse, it's a blessing and a prayer. No one darns socks anymore - even if you know how, it doesn't seem worth the effort. New socks are cheap, old socks are trash. Sure go ahead and fill our dumps with old socks. They're already filled with old electronics, old appliances, worn furniture, broken toys. No one gives a darn for anything anymore. Just replace it with something newer. Darn it. 


God, you are patient, you are kind. you do not envy, do not boast, you are not proud.  You are not rude or self-seeking, you are not easily angered and keep no record of wrongs. 
You do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. You always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere.
You never fail.

At the family cottage, our bathroom reading includes a book titled, "Don't forget to sing in the lifeboats" by Kathryn  and Ross Petras. I wonder if they ever read the story in Acts 16 about Paul and Silas.

The two missionaries had been beaten by a mob, flogged, manacled and locked into the inner cell of a Philippian jail. Unjustly arrested, stuck in a tiny room with a bunch of criminals. Paul & Silas would have been perfectly justified in bemoaning their fate as the darkness of midnight settled in.

How's life in your prison? Quarantined, chained to your work laptop, experiencing interminable 'quality time' with the special people in your life? 


A quick Lenten commentary on the four Gospels, chapter by chapter.

New 2-3 chapters will be published each day through Lent 2020.