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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Just Call Already

by Greg Howell


by Greg Howell

We had gone around and around on this for at least a month. It was almost a ritual. My friend Roger would call me about 30 minutes after I got home from school. We would talk about video games, the latest tests at school, and then he’d start into something like this:
“So did you see Carrie today?”
“Yeah, did you finally talk to her?”
“No, no. Of course not, do you think I’m crazy?”
“Yes! I do, and when are you going to finally just talk to her?”
We would go around and around like this for at least 15 minutes. I would come up with all these plans and scenarios for how we could engineer a chance meeting between Carrie and him at school, and he would mull them over—briefly.
“I could tap her on the shoulder, and she would turn, and right then you come around the corner and totally bump into her with a load of books!” I’d suggest.
“How dumb would that be? ‘Uh, sorry. I didn’t see you standing there ‘cause I’ve got all these books I’m reading. Wanna go out with me sometime?’ That’s a terrible idea.”
And we’d keep going on and on like this. Finally, I’d get tired of hashing through the same 20 scenarios that we always talked about, and I’d throw out my ultimate conversation-ending threat.
“Well, fine then! I’ll just call her up and tell her you’ve been wanting to talk to her. How’s that?”
“Yeah, right, you’d never do that,” he laughed.
But on this particular day his laughter sounded like a challenge. I’d never do that, huh? I thought. Well, watch me! I laughed back at him and said he was probably right, then we hung up the phone, just as we always did. But this time, as I hung up the phone, the wheels in my devious little mind were turning. This time I was actually going to do it! I was tired of the constant scheming and Roger’s deceptive ways.
I gave him about 10 minutes to let any lingering suspicions fade away, and then I looked up Carrie’s phone number. I waited as the phone on the other end buzzed for what seemed like forever, and then she picked up! “Hey, my friend Roger has been trying to get ahold of you. You should give him a call. I think he’s even home right now.” She said thanks and cheerfully hung up to call him back.
I waited with glee for what I knew was coming. The minutes ticked by, and then less than an hour later my phone rang again. Roger was on the other end, hardly making sense!
“What did you do to me?” he yelled. “Carrie called me and said you told her I wanted to speak with her!”
“Well, you did, didn’t you?” I asked innocently.
“Yes, but . . . I didn’t have anything to say! I didn’t even know what to talk about! I had just gotten a Popsicle out of the freezer, and I let the whole thing melt in my hand while I fumbled around sounding like an idiot for 15 minutes!” 
All that work, and he didn’t even know what to say!
Sometimes that’s exactly how I feel about prayer. I can go to all the trouble to get up early so I can have devotions, and wind up praying some weird variation of my lunchtime prayers. Or some days it feels as if my prayers are just random words I’m silently whispering to nobody. In Romans 8:26 Paul describes a similar condition of prayer that sounds a lot like my friend Roger’s problem. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for.”*
Sometimes we don’t know what to say, or how to say it. Sometimes prayers just seem like an endless channel on TV filled with reruns. But for Paul, freedom in Jesus also means freedom from having to figure out the right words when speaking to God. Sometimes all we have to have is the right intentions. He goes on to say this: “But the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26, 27).
This is God stepping in when we’re supposed to be the ones talking, and He helps us communicate with Himself! The Greek word for “intercedes” means “He makes petitions for us,” which shows that even if we don’t know how to say something, or don’t know what we need, God is there to fill in the gaps. Like when a child is just learning to talk on the phone, the parents coach them on what to say, and the grandparents on the other end of the line know it, but love the fact that the child is learning to do it. That’s how God is with us; He’s so excited to hear from us that He jumps in to help us communicate when we don’t know how. The desire here is for connection, relationship, and communication.
So if you feel as though you don’t know what you’re asking for, or you don’t know how to say something, the best thing to do is to just go ahead and say something anyway. The Bible guarantees us that we are free to fumble and not always make sense, and God will take our words and interpret the true feelings and passions of our hearts, even if we don’t know them ourselves. So practice your freedom in Jesus today. Why not just give it a try?

    * Scripture quotations in this article are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Greg Howell is a pastor in Washington, and with his wife has coauthored a teen devotional titled Fusion. He prefers to spend his time snowboarding, behind a camera, or running around like a crazy person chasing his four kids.

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