Praying Out of the Box

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”? 

YES!

“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.

Impossible Prayers

 

For with God, nothing shall be impossible. – Luke 1:37 (RSV)

 All you need is a Bible, a few three-by-five cards or prayer notebook/journal, and a mustard seed faith.

For what?

For your impossible prayer list.

And what, you ask, is an impossible prayer list?

A list of prayer requests that are humanly impossible to answer.

 

The idea for an impossible prayer list originated with my friend Virelle Kidder. She told me that she faithfully prayed over her list daily, then, when no answers seemed forthcoming, eventually forgot about it. Until a year later when she dropped her Bible and everything stuffed between the pages fell onto the floor.

There, on her knees, she read over her impossible prayer list: a kidney for a friend who’d already had two failed transplants—answered; a healthy baby for her daughter who suffers from lupus—answered; healing for six broken marriages—all but one greatly improved (and that couple, she noted, was in counseling); personal financial needs—money appeared, she said, “out of nowhere”; godly wives for her son and his friends—two matches made.

Out of 10 impossible prayer requests, seven had been answered. Not all in ways she’d envisioned, and not in her time frame. But they were answered.

Whatever happened to faith? I wondered. The kind of faith that moves mountains, the James 1:6–7 kind of unwavering faith.

I thought about my own shield of faith, shot full of holes, corroded by the rust of doubt. I thought about my own prayer requests—all safe because they didn’t require the impossible to be answered. No requests that would stretch my faith.

I needed the faith of a child—simple, pure, uncorrupted by the cynicism of the world.  I needed to take God at His Word:

  • “Ask and you shall receive” (Matthew 7:7)
  • “If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
  • “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19)
  • “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15)
  • “Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things” (Jeremiah 33:3)
  • “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20)
  • “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16)
  • “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20–21)

God’s Word is pretty clear. My choice is whether or not to believe it.

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 16:14)

Forgive me, God, for my weak faith. I believe You hear and answer all prayers—mustard-seed sized and mountain-sized, possible and impossible. I believe I’ll see Your perfect answer to my impossible prayer in Your time and in Your way. And I give You the praise and the glory, now, before I even see it. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 7:7–11

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.