Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. – Ephesians 3:20 NKJV
There’s a scene in the movie Apollo 13 in which a group of space engineers are presented with an impossible problem and challenged to come up with a solution. Three astronauts’ lives depended on it.
Random spacecraft parts, seemingly meaningless to their objective of bringing home a severely damaged spacecraft safely, were dumped on the table in front of them. “This is what you have to work with,” they were told.
And they did it. But they had to think out of the box. They had to think beyond the scope of the normal, of what they knew and had experienced.
The phrase, “out of the box,” originated with a British mathematician who developed a nine-dot puzzle. All nine dots, on a three-by-three grid, must be connected with four straight lines—without the pencil leaving the paper.
The only way to do this is to extend the lines beyond the perceived boundary of the dots on the grid. I say “perceived” because we tend to see, or perceive, the outer row of dots as a boundary and the dots all lined up neatly “in a box.”
Only when you think “out of the box” and draw the lines beyond the imaginary boundary can you solve the puzzle.
But we feel safe in our boxes, don’t we? They’re what we’re familiar with, what we understand and can deal with.
Our boxes, however, limit us in many ways.
Take prayer, for instance.
How often do we pray “safe” prayers—prayers we feel comfortable praying because we’re not asking the Almighty to do the impossible? We’re not risking our faith and our Christian reputation on miracles we doubt will happen.
Well, the impossible is the Almighty’s specialty—and miracles are His delight.
The problem, my friend, is on our part—the doubt. Even a little, sniggly, wiggly, invisible-to-the-eye doubt that convinces us “this can’t be done.”
Of course it can’t be done—in human terms and in human (translate: possible) ways. That’s why we ask God to do it.
But too often we ask with doubt. Read the Gospels. See what Jesus had to say about doubt.
And I’m not saying that if you don’t have enough faith, your prayers won’t be answered.
What I am saying is that we need to pray out of the box—for the impossible, for the miracle. In other words, ask God to do His thing.
When a man in my church was experiencing serious health issues, we prayed over him as a congregation and anointed him with oil (See James 5:14).
I was surprised a few weeks later when he reported that doctors couldn’t find what they’d thought was a growth in his colon. What had been seen during medical tests was no longer there. They had no explanation for it, except divine intervention.
Why was I surprised? Doesn’t God like to answer “exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think”?
“According to the power”—His power—the power of growing faith—“that works within us.”
Have an impossible situation? Go ahead—pray out of the box. And watch El Shaddai do the impossible.
Praying out of the box stretches my faith, O Lord. Like a little used muscle, my faith needs to be stretched and exercised. Remind me that nothing is impossible for You and that You delight in answering in ways that are out of the box. Amen.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on Ephesians 3:14–21