By Bryan Ruby
“I love the Lord, for he has heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1-2).
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
Prayer is amazing! Destiny changing. And because this fall marks my 50th spiritual birthday, I know this to be true. During those five decades, I’ve seen God turn the proverbial mountain into a backyard molehill because of prayers brought to His throne. I believe He is attentive to your and my prayers. So much that I’m on three Bethel prayer teams.
Imagine it. Right now, right where life has you—having a power source that can cut through the confusion and chatter and flood it with His holy light. Light that brings healing. Restoration. Guidance. Hope. But . . .
Don’t you hate it when some wise guy says something encouraging, then throws in a but?
But what happens when a prayer goes out again and again for a particular need and it seems to hit the ceiling? As though the heavens are brass?
You just might be praying in the Cone of Silence.
It was 1965 and many ten-year-old boys in America were hiding in closets holding imaginary phones to their ears. It just happened to be one of their sneakers. And I was one of them. The television show, Get Smart, introduced Maxwell Smart as the bumbling, shoe-phone wearing Control agent, along with Agent 99, and The Chief—all battling it out with the villainous spies of Chaos.
Of course, secrecy was always pivotal in their quest for right. Enter, The Cone of Silence. The idea behind this dysfunctional gadget was for top-secret conversations to pass between Max and the chief.
The problem? Once inside The Cone, it was impossible to communicate with each other.
Now, it’s time for Bryan to go transparent all over you. Sometimes when I’m praying for a specific need, I feel like I’m praying in the Cone of Silence—that my plea is bouncing off a Plexiglas bubble around me. As I type this today, I’ve prayed for His guidance over a completed novel for weeks and weeks . . . that I worked on for months and months. Cue the crickets. With no clear direction. No clap of thunder or small still voice guiding me as He has so many times over the last five decades.
I’ve felt stuck, as though my motivation and inspiration had been tossed in a Goodwill pile (maybe a tad bit overly dramatic). No writing. No using the gift I know the Lord gave me and called me to use.
Today, I’m back, typing at my keyboard. And this is what I’ve learned about praying for specific needs. Again.
Don’t do a cold stop when you’re waiting for an answer.
I’m a runner, and after crossing the tape on a 10K, like the recent, rainy Run for Rescue, the absolute worst thing I can do is a cold stop. Symptoms include: feeling lightheaded, dizziness, and the big one, possibly losing my cookies.
When you’re waiting for a specific answer to prayer, don’t stop and freeze. You’ll make yourself spiritually sick and doubt will paralyze you. God is listening to every word (1Peter 3:12). Don’t rock on your porch of indecision—keep moving forward. Continue to pray and push ahead even if you’re convinced you have a season ticket in the Cone of Silence.
Remember, God is God—I’m not.
This means His plans are infinite and the best I can do in my (see what’s in front of my face) finite brain, is to depend on the Holy Spirit’s hidden and guiding hand.
You don’t know how many times I’ve prayed one of my life verses for guidance and direction concerning this and other bolder-sized needs. Sometimes, my trust, my understanding, and my acknowledging Him (Proverbs 3:5-6) waivers because I only see today. But He sees my past, present, and future days—because He’s already there. And the straight and perfect path being cleared before me is heaven ordained.
The Cone of Silence is only in my head
I’m a dad and if I heard my daughter calling me, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to be there for her. Because she’s part of me. My blood runs through her veins. Such a deep connection that nothing could stand in the way of my attention and devotion.
And that’s exactly how the Lord sees you and me. When we call out in need, in desperation, remember, He’s already there. God never leaves us. And never, ever, forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). Why? Because we’re His kids. God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father (Galatians 4:6).
Don’t let the father of lies mess with your head that your prayers are falling flat, and not getting through. The Cone is simply not there.
Today, I still don’t have an answer for the future of my novel, but you know what, that’s okay. I’m going to keep moving forward and doing the things He’s called me to do.
I’ve also decided I don’t want God’s job. Things always end up way better when I don’t try.
And when it comes to praying through the Cone of Silence? I’ll end with Neo’s revelation in The Matrix. The enemy (Artificial Intelligence) wanted him to buy into the lie that everything in front of him was real. Neo saw through the deception and recognized, “There is no spoon.”
Fellow prayers, the Cone of Silence is only in our heads. There is no cone.