Work hard, pray harder. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

First Tim Tebow was yelling at Him to help out with the football games. Then came Christmas, which is always such a hassle, marshaling shepherds and angels and trying to decide if the Holy Ghost needs a separate present or not.

And now the Bachmann campaign is asking for a hand.

As a general rule, when a candidate shows up on national television and announces confidently that “we expect to see a miracle,” you know that it is time to throw in the proverbial towel. Yet Bachmann has done exactly that — with no apparent irony.

Inside the Iowa campaign headquarters, where approximately 20 volunteers had been manning the phones, hang hand-written posters. “How BIG is your GOD?” one asks. “Electability is our Responsibility,” says another. “I am the LORD, the GOD of all mankind IS ANYTHING too HARD for ME?” asks another, which sounds as though the Lord was having difficulty with His caps lock. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13.” You would be forgiven for not realizing immediately that it was a campaign headquarters. On the front desk, someone has deposited small stacks of edited pocket testaments — the “America’s Life Reference Manual: Special Freedom Edition.”

Periodically a bell rings.

According to Eric Woolson, Bachmann’s new Iowa campaign manager — an affable man with a business card in Comic Sans — whenever the bell rings, someone has volunteered to be a Bachmann caucus speaker. It’s like an angel getting its wings, but with more out-of-state student volunteers from Oral Roberts involved.

You can see why they might want God to step in.

Of the 25 or so volunteers still doggedly placing calls the day before the caucuses, 15 are Oral Roberts students from out of state. The slightly more than 100 volunteers that Woolson says have been in and out of Bachmann headquarters over the past few days include 43 or 44 students brought from Oral Roberts in the company of three instructors. But by Monday evening most of them have had to depart.

Ooceeh Afame, an Oral Roberts pre-med student, chats affably in the reception area as afternoon wanes on the last day before the caucus. “This organization is alive,” he says. “Just watch out for that miracle.” He talks for nearly half an hour. During this time he places no calls.

So some divine intervention would be extremely welcome just about now.

A small, cold crowd gathers outside the Bachmann Iowa headquarters at 9 o’clock on Monday night, the last night before the caucuses, for the Countdown to Caucus rally. Patriotic music blares.

“I want to thank you for the literally tens of thousands of phone calls,” Bachmann tells the assembled crowd. “All the seeds we’ve sown are about to be harvested. There is seed time, and there is harvest, and tomorrow is harvest.”

After urging everyone to take pictures and post them on Facebook and Twitter and social media to “pump it up, pump it up,” Bachmann adds, “Tomorrow night we are going to see a miracle because we know the one who gives miracles.”

There is a difference between hoping for a miracle and expecting one.

One has the sense, visiting the headquarters, that the Bachmann gang expects one. It’s the Tim Tebow problem. When everything goes well, it’s all God’s doing. When everything doesn’t, just add prayer. But then the Kansas City Chiefs come along. Bachmann makes no bones about her vibrant faith, a faith established on the sense that the Lord literally reached down and touched her with the spirit in an empty church one night. Why not in Iowa, too? Cultivate an intense, personal relationship with God, and it seems only logical that he’ll turn up on the football field or in the caucus crowds.

It’s an attitude that resonates with me. When you have a major project that requires a lot of work and is due in fewer than 24 hours, asking God for miraculous intervention seems as good an approach as any. But generally, the projects where I do this turn out less well than I might hope. And the fact that this seems to be an actual strategy the Bachmann campaign is pursuing makes one wonder what might happen were Bachmann elected. “North Korea is aiming a missile at us!” “Don’t worry, God makes miracles all the time.”

It worked for Jonathan in the Old Testament, Bachmann pointed out during a lengthy New Year’s Day prayer at the Jubilee Family Church. But all he had to do was defeat the Philistines. She has to win the support of Iowans.

One thing’s for sure — without actual divine intervention, a Bachmann victory seems unlikely. Even with God, Bachmann’s hitting the trail at four.