Praying Out of the Box


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 safely bringing home a severely damaged spacecraft, 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.

Read and reflect on Ephesians 3:14–21.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Toilet Seats and Contentment


It was good for me to be afflicted.  —Psalm 119:71 NIV

Who would have ever thought purchasing a toilet seat would be the highlight of a shopping trip?

One year with escalating gas prices, a faltering economy, and a sharp drop in my freelance editing, my husband and I trimmed the budget and put into practice the two dozen ways to tighten our belts I had formulated.

During that year, I learned:

Wants are not needs. Like TV or satellite service. Like potato chips and ice cream. We not only saved the fifty dollars a month we were paying for the satellite service, we also shaved fifteen dollars a month from the electric bill by not turning on the TV as much. We watched DVDs on Friday and Saturday evenings and went to bed early, which also helped to save on the electric bill because we turned off the lights early. Unfortunately, cutting the potato chips and ice cream didn’t impact my weight loss hopes.

Living on less isn’t a hardship. It means less clutter, less stress, less money going out. Turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees, putting on a sweatshirt, and using a small heater in the room where I worked helped to save on the heating bill. I cancelled my gym membership. Walking and doing some old-fashioned exercises kept me in shape just as well as driving twelve miles to town to work out and cost nothing but time—much less time than it took to drive to town and back.

I really love gardening. Especially now that I’m freezing and canning for only two, not five. We expanded the garden, adding beans, squash, lettuce, and more tomato and pepper plants. I experienced once again the joy and satisfaction of seeing sparkling, colorful jars on my pantry shelves and stacks of vegetables in my freezer.

Staying focused on what we have—not on what we don’t have—increases the contentment level. “New” doesn’t always mean “better.” Throwing out something with years of good use left is wasteful and expensive, especially when that something is a vehicle. We ran our 1997 Explorer until we could afford to replace it. Sure, we had to get the transmission replaced and the alternator rebuilt, but that was a lot less expensive than a monthly loan payment.

The good life is really the simple life. Too often this truth gets buried under the advertisements bombarding us daily, under too much modern philosophy and not enough old-fashioned common sense. Making do with what you have until you can afford to replace it is simple common sense. So is using the cash you have, not the credit limit you have, to live on. I used a toilet seat with a broken hinge for months before replacing it. Hence the joy when I finally got a new one.

Blessings galore surround me, if only I open my eyes. For too long, the things I wanted but didn’t have blocked the view of the blessings.

Yes, affliction can be good. It brings us back to where we need to be: trusting in the grace and goodness of God.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21–23).

 Read and reflect on Matthew 6:19–33.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.