She came all the way from California on a fixed income to meet the President, but the White House guard stopped her. She hadn’t understood that the elegant stationery in her wrinkled hands was only a fund-raising letter not an invitation to dine. There was nothing the guard could do.
But a savvy eavesdropper standing nearby alerted presidential staffers, who arranged for Mrs. Green to take the next day’s White House tour. Moving like patrons passing through a museum, the tour group slowed as they caught sight of the Oval Office; there sat President Reagan.
Thanks to a heads-up from his staff, President Reagan saw the lady, rose and motioned to her.
“Frances! Those darn computers, they fouled up again! If I’d known you were coming, I would’ve come out there to get you myself.”
According to speechwriter Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan sat quietly chatting with Frances Green, comparing notes on life in California.
Despite riding in the high-pressure vortex of geopolitical power, Reagan had paused the world’s most powerful government long enough to talk to a woman who, though powerless, represented The People.
Despite your politics this story stirs our fantasy that, somehow, the powerful might really care about the powerless. We don’t always see much evidence of it, but a story like that gets your hopes up.
Maybe that’s why so many people want to believe in prayer. We can’t seem to let go of the warm idea that God cares. That the Most High will stoop down to help the most low. That God would pay attention to what we think.
The President’s happy invitation to Mrs. Green inspires all but the most cynical heart to imagine what it’s like being invited into God’s office. It can happen. It has happened, sometimes to surprised victims who were merely taking the usual religious “White House tour.” While paying their polite respects to Deity, they found themselves suddenly ushered into His presence.
Take the case of a certain ninety-nine-year-old Sumerian sheik. God, on His way to judge Sodom and Gomorrah, stopped off to have supper with Abraham. As the impromptu dinner party ended, the Almighty toyed with inviting Abraham into the Oval Office:
“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (Genesis 18:17 NIV)
In other words: Should I let Abraham help me make this decision? After all, he has relatives in Sodom. Besides that, I’ve chosen him to father the Messianic nation. His descendants are a nation set apart for my plans. Should I tell Abraham, my covenant partner, what I’m about to do to?
Well, the Most High did let Abraham give his ‘advice’ in prayer. And it nudged the course of history. Can’t it still happen today?
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)