Every unanswered prayer feels like an email that I’ve read but haven’t responded to yet. Something pending. Something that still needs to get done. Something that weighs on my heart.
A friend recently emailed me with a prayer request. Usually I write those things down on a piece of paper or put in a Post It note on my desk so I won’t forget. Pen to paper, the old-fashioned way, “praying with a pen,” as my friend John Sherrill puts it.
Naturally I responded to this prayer request by email, saying, “I’ll be praying for you. Keep me posted.” I was about to delete the email. After all, I had responded to it. But then I went back and marked it “unread.”
I was glad to have that reminder all week, every time I logged on and scrolled down. Don’t forget those prayers. I emailed my friend. “Any updates? How are things today? How are you feeling?”
Were my persistent emails obnoxious? I hope not. I certainly don’t believe persistent prayer like that is obnoxious. How could we possibly bore God with our desire to talk to him?
All week that piece of “unread” mail stayed there in my inbox, like the prayers lingering in my head. Prayer can be prompted by a nagging concern, something that wakes me up in the middle of the night and sends me scrolling back through the events of the day. But then I don’t believe my “unread” thoughts are ever left unread by God.
At the week’s end, there was an answer to my prayer, and is often the case, a new prayer to say. “Amen,” I said. “Glad things are a little better. I’ll keep praying.”
“Thanks for staying in touch,” my friend said. (Evidently my emails were not unwelcome.) “Sorry if any of this is T.M.I.”
“Hardly possible,” I emailed back.
And now I have a new email that I’ve left marked “unread,” a reminder of more prayers to be said.