We serve a God who does impossible things. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, had a baby when she was 90 years old (Genesis 18, 21). The Israelites escaped the Egyptians by walking through the parted Red Sea — with the pursuing Egyptians drowning when the waters crashed back together (Exodus 13, 14). The walls of Jericho fell on the seventh day, after the Hebrews walked around the city seven times, blew a trumpet, and shouted (Joshua 6).
We haven’t even mentioned Jesus and all the many miracles He performed.
God, and Only God
The point is, with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19: 26), and He wants us to call upon Him in our day of trouble (Psalm 50: 15). So when we’ve got a problem, a BIG problem, God assures us that we can confidently approach Him with it:
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” (1 Peter 3: 12/Psalm 34: 15)
However, as you probably know, it’s never as easy as it sounds. When you’re calling on God for the impossible in your life, do it with confidence, but do it also with wisdom:
Give Him Free Rein
1) Don’t box God in to a specific way of answering. From our perspective, the answer looks simple: we need THIS job, or THAT amount of money (many of our requests have to do with finances); healing from a disease; or relief from an oppressor.
1 John 5: 14 says, “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” While our initial response is to kick the soda can and say, “Dang. He always wants what I don’t,” trust that He sees your tears and “knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6: 9)
2) You’ve got work to do.
Psalm 5: 8 says, “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness . . . make straight your way before me.” The implication is that we’re walking, not sitting, and when we face even insurmountable problems, there’s usually something we can do:
If we don’t know anything about buying a car, we can ask a friend if they know a mechanic who can accompany us to the car lot. If we need money, lots of it, we generally can cut, trim, adjust, and finesse our budget more than we ever thought we could. If we’re in chronic pain and no doctor will tell us why, we search, research and don’t give up.
Even if you think the Red Sea is at your back, stand up, adjust your pack, and check the livestock. If there is any task you are given to do, do it.
Ditch the Stopwatch
3) Don’t slap a time limit on God.
The surest way of feeling discouraged, despairing, and angry is to give God an ultimatum. Even if you’ve got one — the rent is due on THIS day — you have no choice but to trust that He knows this and will work accordingly. Frequently, however, we don’t have a time limit, other than our (natural) impatience to get this problem behind us so that we can move on to better things.
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3: 19, 21-22, 25-26)
Waiting is never easy. It’s also generally not optional.
A Bit Too Social Media
4) Quantity is not quality. By all means, ask people to pray for you — “Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5: 16)
Think twice, however, before you do a mass crowd posting on Facebook, an unrestricted tweet on Twitter, or a universal networking on Linked In, reasoning that, the more people speaking on you behalf — even if they’re total strangers — the more God HAS to listen.
“If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18: 19)
That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? But how comforting to know that you don’t have to be the most popular kid in the class to get God to listen to you.
A Cry from the Heart
5) It’s not so much what you say, how you say it, or how often you repeat it. Ultimately, prayer involves trust.
“When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 6: 9. Interestingly, in this entire passage on prayer (Matthew 6: 5- 14), “Pray” is mentioned six times, but so is the word, “Forgive.”
Remember the verse in point one, “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us”? It looks like a significant part of God’s will is that we forgive others.
Life isn’t easy, my friend, and sometimes it’s hard to see how our Christianity helps us through it. But God is our ever-present help in trouble, and those troubles are a means for us to acknowledge our own weakness, and rely on His strength.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity where I am learning about prayer in real time. God is gracious, and when we seek Him, we find Him, and when we ask Him for wisdom, He gives it to us.
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