FirstLife Blog

Day 17: Call and Response

Posted by Brent McDougal on

(7 minute read)

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV).”

Dallas Willard wrote a wonderful book called Hearing God. The book challenges followers of Jesus to actually believe that they can expect to hear from God. God is always speaking, according to Willard. The problem is that we don’t listen well and don’t trust God in all of our circumstances. 

He tells about a man named Robert C. McFarlane, who was a well-known businessman in the Los Angeles area. McFarlane moved to California from Oklahoma in 1970. Within a few days of his arrival — due to a disastrous misunderstanding with a close friend — he had to take control of an insurance agency. He did not want it, but he had invested a lot of money. It had to succeed. 

After three years, he was constantly stressed and tired. He felt overwhelmed by the challenges and felt that he lacked the wisdom to help the company grow. 

The silver lining was that Robert had become a Christian in his time in Los Angeles. His wife and friends had been praying for him for years to make this decision. 

One day, after dark nights of worry and hours of frustration and feeling defeated, his financial difficulties closed in on him like a darkness. He was driving to the office and felt a sudden urge to turn left onto the road out of town and just disappear. Suddenly, into the middle of his inner turmoil, he heard a still, small voice: "Pull over to the curb.”

As Robert tells it, it was like the words were written on the windshield. 

After he pulled over, he heard a different message, as clearly as if someone were in the car with him:

"My Son had strains that you will never know, and when he had those strains, he turned to me, and that's what you should do.”

Robert sat there and wept for a long time. He then drove to the office. When he arrived, he faced twenty-two major problems. With God’s help and peace, all of the most significant problems — whether they concerned company disagreements, clients deciding to remain with his agency, payments by clients of late premiums, or whatever — were substantially resolved by that day's end.

God tells Jeremiah to call to me. This is spoken not to the Hebrew people, generally, but to the prophet, encouraging Jeremiah to seek the Lord by prayer. God promises to answer to him.

It’s as if God looked down on Jeremiah and said, “Why don’t you call on me?” 

What’s interesting is that this verse comes in chapter thirty-three, with thirty-two chapters before it. Chapter one of Jeremiah begins with God telling Jeremiah that before he was formed in the womb, God knew him and set him apart for service. Jeremiah speaks back to God, “I don’t know how to speak. I’m too young.” But God says, “Don’t say you’re too young. You must speak my words to the people, and I will be with you.” So Jeremiah the prophet speaks the word of God for thirty-two chapters, in conversation with God. But now God says, “Call to me, and I will answer.”

Whether Jeremiah was an old man or in the days before his birth, God was the same. God was always available to Jeremiah to answer his prayer and share with him “unsearchable things.” 

Perhaps Jeremiah had forgotten to call to Him. Perhaps Jeremiah had forgotten the help of heaven.

After his conversion, George Müller seemed never to forget how to cry out to the Living God. One day, when funds were low and nearly one hundred children needed to be fed, Müller relates how he called out to God, and God answered. 

“July 22, 1838. This evening I was walking in our little garden, meditating on Hebrews 13:8: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ While meditating on His unchangeable love, power, and wisdom, and, as I went on, turning all into prayer concerning myself, I applied His unchangeable love, power, and wisdom both to my present spiritual and the temporal circumstances. All at once, the present need of the orphanage was brought to my mind. Immediately, I was led to say to myself:

Jesus, in His love and power, has hitherto supplied me with what I have needed for the orphans, and in the same unchangeable love and power, He will provide me with all that I need for the future.”

“A flow of joy came into my soul while realizing the unchangeableness of our Loving Lord. About one minute after I had this thought, a letter was brought to me. Enclosed in it was a twenty pound note.”

It was enough for the day and then some. It was sent four days before Müller asked for help.

God said through another prophet, Isaiah, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear (Isaiah 65:24, NIV).” 

Most people don’t have difficulty praying simple prayers. Lots of people pray in the morning, or maybe some throughout the day. To really call out to God, though — to bring a specific need before God in extended and quiet prayer — that is another thing entirely. 

Would God look at you and say, “You talk to me. You pray to me. But you don’t really call out to me in the belief that I have everything that you need?”

The first condition of prevailing, powerful prayer is complete dependence upon the Living God. 

It has everything to do with the merits and worth of the Living God. It has nothing to do with your merit and worth. 

Do you seek the face of God for what you want and need? Some people need healing from a past pain. Some people need freedom from a bad habit. Some people find their minds overwhelmed with anxiety. Some people need physical healing.

God is waiting for you. Why do you delay in really calling on Him? 

We must not only think of our seeking God and waiting upon God. We also need to remember that God waits upon us and seeks us out. Isaiah 30:18 says, “the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are those who wait for him (ESV).”

Maybe there is doubt in your heart that God really cares. Tell God about your doubt, and ask God to increase your faith. Maybe you’re tired after praying for so long for one thing. Tell God that you’re weary and to help you to pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to well up prayer in you. 

One new spiritual practice I have undertaken is to write down prayer requests. I have often done spiritual journaling in the past, but now I am specifically keeping a record of those prayers. I go back and review it sometimes, making a checkmark by answered prayer. 

I’m amazed at how many checkmarks I’m making. 

The same God who said to Jeremiah, “call to me,” is the One who speaks to you today.

God says, “Call to me.”

When you call to God, God will answer and tell you unsearchable things you do not know. The word “unsearchable” literally means inaccessible thingssecret things, or mighty things. What an amazing promise that the whisper of God will reach your ears to share truth and understanding. Things about relationships. Wisdom to navigate what seems impossible to overcome. Things about your future. Promises that will be fulfilled. Dreams that God wants to walk out in your life.

You won’t know these things unless you pray.

Pray now. Call to God. Expect God will answer. 

Prayer Principle #17: God waits to tell you unsearchable things and give you the help of heaven.

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