In a small town much like the town I grew up in years ago, the volunteer fire department’s telephone was answered by the policeman on duty, who would in turn sound the fire whistle to rally the volunteers to duty. One Saturday morning the town chief of police had just come on duty when the fire department phone rang. He picked up the phone and said, “Fire Department.”
A voice on the other end of the line frantically said, “Send the fire truck!” Then the caller immediately slammed the phone down.
The chief stood stunned, not knowing what to do. In a few minutes the phone rang again. Quickly he picked it up and said again, “Fire Department!” Again the voice cried, “Send the fire truck!” Again the caller immediately hung up.
Realizing that someone’s house was possibly at stake, he rushed outside and scanned the sky to see if he could see smoke and therefore send the fire trucks in that direction. While outside he also devised a plan as to how to keep the caller from hanging up so quickly if she called back. Sure enough the phone rang again and he went running inside. Picking up the phone he quickly asked, “Where’s the fire?”
The lady on the other end screamed, “In the kitchen,” and slammed the phone down again. (revised from James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 110.)
For some of us that comes pretty close to describing our prayer life. We find ourselves in an emergency so we run to God, shout “help” then scurry away. We never stop long enough to hear from Him. We never linger in His presence. We never set aside time to pour our hearts out to Him and to have Him pour His heart into us. We are constantly hanging up the phone on God … and we wonder why we have so little consistency in our prayer lives and so little fruit in our spiritual lives.
I’ve discovered in 20 plus years of ministry it is that Christians often feel guilt their inconsistent prayer life. I’ve also discovered that the remedy for that problem is being dependent upon the Lord for every part of life. The key to a consistent and fruitful prayer life is abiding in Christ.
Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:5-8)
Are we satisfied with God’s blessings or do we want His abiding presence more than anything else? Are we content to live this life under our own steam or are we totally dependent upon the Lord for everything in this life? If you want a prayer life that is consistent, satisfying, and fruitful, it will only be so to the extent that stay intimately connected with Jesus.