Every year thousands of people write letters to Santa Claus at Christmas time in the United States alone. Some estimate that the USPS gets about 12,000 letters EACH DAY during peak season. That’s a lot of mail to a person who (SPOILER ALERT) does not exist!
Of all the thousands of letters sent to the North Pole each year, exactly zero of them have come from me. I don’t think I sat still long enough during my elementary years to write a letter to the Claus clan and as I have grown older (and hopefully gotten wiser), I now only tend to correspond with real peeps.
I was thinking about the “letters to Santa” phenomena today, because I suppose there are some out there who would equate a “letter to Santa” with prayer to God. Some might argue that prayer is a composed list of wants sent from our heart to someone who does not exist. For those that view prayer this way, they probably have stopped praying altogether. Why waste time on such a foolish pursuit?
Most people are not born with a cynical disposition against prayer. Most are born with a sense of the existence of the divine. Further, most want to relate to the god they believe exists. This is why the vast majority of the residents of planet earth practice some form of theistic religion, and prayer is a part of almost every religious expression. Over time, however, many come to stop praying because too many times they have prayed and seen their prayers go unanswered. This is true in our day, and it was true in Jesus day. This is why Jesus tells a certain parable in Luke 18:1-8 . . . to encourage people to keep praying:
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Jesus wants us to know that prayer through Him to our Heavenly Father is heard. The message of the parable is simple. If an unrighteous judge is responsive to persistent requests from people he does not know, how much more does our Heavenly Father respond to the requests of His children whom He loves! Jesus wants us to know that our prayers sent North through Him are always read and responded to. In fact, God’s responses are swift . . . even if it takes time for us to see His plans unfold.
So, this Christmas, as you do NOT write a letter to Santa, take the time you saved to hit your knees in prayer . . . but not just any prayer. Prayer to a generic god is like addressing a letter to Santa – North Pole. More specific info is needed if our mail is to be delivered. We need to pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . . the Father of Jesus. We need to pray to this God through the connection established for us in Jesus Christ. His death paid the penalty for our sins, so our prayers have sufficient postage to make it to His throne room. Pray persistently for the big issues of your life (and the small ones.) He hears our prayers and will respond swiftly.