November 15, 1989
If you use a telephone very often, eventually you will have the same strange experience that happened to me last week. I dialed a long-distance number in Toronto but before the phone rang on the other end, I heard what sounded like someone dialing out on an extension in my house. No one else was home. After the dialing tones, there was an obvious presence of someone else on the line. I gulped and managed, “Hello?”
A man’s voice asked for Mr. So-and-so. I explained I was calling out and that he came on the line before my call was completed. He told me his number. It was the one I dialed -- He had picked up the phone in order to make a call at the same instant my call went through and we were instantly connected, without any rings.
After a chuckle, he put me through to the person I wanted and this fairly common incident was over. Common locally anyway. I’d never had a long-distance call coincide like that before, at least not a long-distance telephone call...
There is another kind of long-distance call I make many times a day. Or at least I should. Sometimes my lines are so busy I don’t take time to place it. And there are occasions when I do make the call but it seems as if I’m not getting through. However, just as with using the telephone, most of the connections are made and the two-way conversation is immensely enjoyed. It’s often difficult to hang up and go back to work. I’ve even noticed many of these special “long-distance calls” are like my call to Toronto, where the One on the other end picks up the signal before I even give it.
Of course, I’m talking about prayer — and the omniscience of God. Omniscience simply means that He knows all about everything from beginning to end before it even happens — each call is anticipated before it’s made.
But not only that, He knows what we are calling about: “...for your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:32). And He knows what we are thinking about: “...You understand my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:2). And He even knows what words we will say after we have said hello: “...there is not a word in my tongue, O Lord, but You know all of it” (Psalm 139:4).
Besides all that, He knows everything else about us. He even knows the number of hairs on our heads. Because He is the One who knows all, it is no problem for Him to keep this promise: “... it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
There was a Christian pastor who responded to an offer of a different job but it meant moving from the small town where he lived to a larger city. His house needed to be sold. At the time he moved, many others had been moving from that town and the possibility of a quick sale seemed remote. He began to pray. Months before, unknown to him, other plans were being made. A company was planning an expansion. Their plans included the buying of several houses in that smaller town to facilitate new employees. The pastor’s house was one of those they purchased — God’s answer to his prayer had been prepared long before he knew he even had to make the request.
God’s omniscient knowledge of our needs is a comfort to His people even though His answers are sometimes startling; just like picking up the phone and finding the person you wanted to talk to already on the other end. Yet the more often we make those long-distant calls, the more likely we are to realize how faithful He waits to hear from us and how eager He is to answer before we even ask.