By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
When I visit a hospital that is unfamiliar to me, one thing I always like to check out is the chapel. Each one is an island of solace found in an environment filled with chaos, sadness, and heartache. With so many surgeries and sicknesses, it seems to me that the best place for a chapel is at the heart of a hospital.
I remember, upon entering one such chapel, I was met with a spiral-bound notebook lying open on a stand just inside the door. It was a bit worn and looked well-used. Curious, I stepped up to read what was inscribed on the page.
Dear God, be with my father because he has surgery today.
It was a prayer journal. A communal prayer journal. I couldn’t help but flip through the book and see the types of prayers that people had prayed. Some prayers were long, filling half a page with curly, neat writing. Others were one simple line. Some were vague and unspecific, while others got right to the point.
My eyes stopped on one prayer that was scrawled in long, scratched writing. So much hurt and desperation hung on those three words:
God, help me!
Maybe I was out of place in reading through those prayers. Maybe I was being nosy. But after looking through this prayer notebook, I was struck with just how many different people must have come to that particular chapel in search of hope. My head swam when I thought about just how many people had stood where I was standing, gripped the pen beside me, and poured their heart out on the pages of that book.
The notebook was filled about halfway, but who’s to say there wasn’t bookshelves full of past prayer notebooks that had already been used up. Maybe the notebook that sat in front of me was Vol. 176. I imagined thousands of prayers written down in times of hopelessness.
And our God hears every single one.
From the longest to the shortest. The neatest to the messiest. From the last-ditch surgery for survival, to the routine outpatient procedure. Each prayer was transcribed as a direct-line into God’s ear. He hears us when we pray.
As I thought about that notebook, I thought about how many notebooks would be filled if all the prayers I had ever prayed had been written down by some unforeseen stenographer. The late night prayer sessions, the last second whispers, the hopeless cries–all written down in spiral notebooks. Would they fill a single shelf? A whole room? An entire library?
The same thing is true for the prayers that filled my imaginary notebooks as it is for the prayers written in the notebook I was holding in my hands: God heard them all. More than that, God promises that no drop of ink on those notebooks will go unanswered.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). He hears us when we pray. He answers us.
So, fill your notebooks.