(256) 721-0041 info@mlutheran.org

Editor’s Note: Pastor Scott Peterson is sharing daily devotions written by some of his favorite authors. These current devotions are written by Arndt Halvorson on the writings of P.T. Forsyth. Their biographies and any notes by Pastor Scott are listed at the end of the devotion.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Phone Is Ringing

by Arndt Halvorson

“All progress in prayer is an answer to prayer, our own or another’s… In every act of prayer we have already begun to do God’s will, for which, above all things, we pray. The prayer within all prayer is, ‘Thy will be done'”

P.T. Forsyth

Prayer is God’s crowning gift. Yet–prayer is our main work. These two facts must always be held together.

Praying is our way of keeping contact with God. He made prayer possible when he came as one of us to live with us and to die and be raised for us. He is always available, always.

Sometimes, usually in untroubled times, we take this for granted. In these times our prayers often become a kind of chit-chat–expressing our views and feelings. Often we grow sentimental and tend to romanticize.

This kind of praying, though not what we would call vital prayer, is just fine with God. His main concern is that we keep the communication lines open. Sometimes we use the telephone just to hear a friend’s or loved one’s voice, after all.

When pleasant times cease, and we are besieged by bad news—a death, an accident, a moral lapse, a defeat, a frightening doctor’s report, loss of a job–we must not panic and say, “Where is God now?” He is where he was in pleasant days, at the other end of the telephone line.

In such times, if we listen closely, our phone is ringing. God is calling. He is saying to us, “I am as near as breathing. Keep talking to me. My grace is still sufficient.”

Keep talking–and listening. He has not changed or moved away. His will is that we let him love us, that we let his arms hold us, that we let his mercy wash away our sins and our fears.

His will is that we hear him calling us, by name.

“Rejoice always, pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17).

Peter Taylor Forsyth was a theologian, pastor, and educator whose fiery preaching and provocative writing stirred Great Britain from 1874 until his death in 1921. For a number of years after his death he was forgotten, but since 1940 he has been “rediscovered” and has been studied by many of today’s church leaders and theologians. Born and educated in Scotland, he combines Scottish toughness and gentleness, practicality and mysticism, with an openness to the world outside–mainly German, Scandinavian and French thought. Since he was a pastor for 25 years, he does not write to systematize his thought, but to apply it to our daily lives. Thus, his theology has a personal “bite” which gets us involved as participants, not spectators. His writings seem current, addressing the great questions of our time–such issues as authority, how to read the Bible, prayer, the cross and its significance and the call to holiness by a Holy God.

Arndt L. Halvorson (1915 – 2006) was my preaching professor at Luther Seminary where he taught homiletics (preaching) for 24 years.  When Arndt dressed-up he wore cowboy cut suits, with a string tie and cowboy boots.  He had a passion for the gospel and his bluntness in communication was engaging.  One day in my preaching lab Arndt said, “Some of the best sermons I ever heard were preached without notes.  And, all of the worst sermons I ever heard were preached without notes.”  –Pastor Scott