James A. Washington

A colleague asked me if I thought God heard some prayers while he gave a deaf ear to others. My answer was succinctly, “Absolutely.” I believe God answers prayers (when and how He wants to, of course) when they are sincerely offered up to Him out of a belief that He truly can answer them.

We waste our time making entreaties to God out of some habitual and traditional outward show of false faith. That’s the kind of stuff we do to each other. We play each other. We constantly show each other the face – or faces, if you have two or more – of polite political correctness in an attempt to get over or get from someone else what you want.

The problem we have with God is He ain’t having any part of our games. It’s sort of what my mom used to say to me on occasions: “Who do you think you talkin’ to, one of yo little friends out in the street?” After swallowing slowly and hoping I could get out of this conversation with my little young behind intact, I heard mama actually telling me (without saying so), that she was tired of my lame excuses, bad behavior and the potential lie she could hear coming before I even opened my mouth.

God, in my sanctified imagination, was the originator of the question, “You talking to me?” Apparently when you seriously consider the possibilities of God’s greatness and power, you also have His attention, welcomed or not. If you don’t believe the person you’re talking to has any money, you won’t ask to borrow any from him or her.

If you don’t believe God can and will answer your prayer, you won’t ask. If you don’t truly believe He can help the situation, then maybe you shouldn’t ask. Doubt becomes a part of why we don’t pray. We really don’t believe.

No prayer is probably better than false prayer. No prayer might be better than “it can’t hurt” prayer. At some point, God is going to react. I wouldn’t want to be the subject of His statement, “I’m tired of playing games with you.”

That can only mean one of two things: either you’re in a faith struggle of monumental proportions and God recognizes from time to time, you believe in His magnificence, while at other times you simply can’t get your act together. In this situation, you can probably get a somewhat sympathetic ear. Or, you’re playing with faith like it is a free ticket to a concert, you’re not really sure you want to go to. You’ll take them just in case something better doesn’t come along. 

In this situation you better recognize who you are fooling with and just leave well enough alone. Faith either is or isn’t. And don’t you know God knows?

“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes Lord,” they replied. “Then He touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.” Matthew 9:28-29.

What will be done to or for you in God’s name? I’m convinced anything is possible in God’s name. The trick is to make sure when He asks, “You talking to me?” that the answer is clear and emphatic. It wouldn’t hurt to make sure that before you dial His number, you truly want Him to pick up the telephone.

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