Dan's call came as a complete shock. He said, "Cal you've got to do something. Whatever you posted on Facebook has prompted people to start calling my daughter. Her phone has been ringing off the hook. My friends are worried sick that something's happened to us!"
I apologized for the confusion and told him about my post. I had simply written that I was praying for him and his wife and asking God to bless them. When I pray for my friends I usually send them a handwritten note. Since he was in Arizona I decided to use Facebook.
"I guess when people think of prayer, they always think the worst," he replied. Dan was certainly correct about that. This happened three more times that afternoon. I posted that I was praying for a few more friends and it set off alarm bells all over the country.
"Why is that?" I asked myself. It seems as if too many of us have come to think of prayer as the last line of defense when everything goes wrong in our lives. When we talk about prayer, people start thinking the worst. We rarely think of prayer as a good thing.
We lift up prayer as though it is an umbrella to protect us from the effects of a terrible storm. We use it like Captain America's shield to fend off attacks from the enemy. Then sometimes it doesn't work. People die even after we have faithfully been praying for them.
No wonder so many people ask if prayer really makes a difference. Which brings me back to what I wrote on Dan's Facebook wall. I was actually praying that Dan and his wife would experience a deep and abiding sense of God's presence on their trip. I wanted to bless him.
You see, prayer in its most essential form is all about connecting with our heavenly Father. God has chosen prayer as the primary way for us to spend time with him at any hour of the night or day. It's like calling your best friend. Just hearing their voice changes everything.
So I'm going to keep praying for all my friends. I hope you will too. It's a good thing. While you are at it, take a few minutes to simply thank God for all he's done for you. Tell him you love him. Then just spend a little time with him. I can guarantee that you will be blessed!
God bless! See you in church.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church of Westerly.