The Risk of Prayer

Mike from Tibbens Towing in Clearfield, PA, backs our camper into our campsite. (Aug. 12, 2019)

 

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 11:9–10 NIV

In his book, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, Mark Batterson tells about an African missionary whose church met beneath the shade of a tree near the village because they didn’t have a building in which to worship. The local witch doctor wasn’t too happy with that, so he cursed the tree and it withered.

When you preach Christ and His power, when you preach an awesome God who can do the impossible, when you preach the powerful presence of the indwelling Spirit, you better be ready to stand firm. Trials always come to test your faith, especially when you proclaim it.

In response, the missionary called for a public prayer meeting during which he laid hands on the tree and asked God to resurrect it.

In public. Where everyone could hear him.

“If God doesn’t answer his prayer,” Batterson wrote, “he would have dug an even deeper hole. That’s the risk of prayer, isn’t it?”

That made me think. How often do we say “safe” prayers, all in the realm of the possible? Do we have the courage to pray the impossible prayers? Or do we pray them, but give ourselves an out?

“Sometimes,” Batterson noted, “God calls us to ante up all the faith we have, and then let the chips fall where they may.”

When I read this devotional, appropriately titled “Shameless Audacity,” DH and I were in a real pickle. Two days earlier the transmission went in our pickup while towing the camper to the campground. Now, while we sat at the campground, the truck sat in the towing company’s lot, waiting for us to decide what to do with it.

Rebuilding the transmission would cost anywhere from $3,800 to $4,600. With taxes coming due in another month, the fuel oil tank needing replenished before winter, DH retired for nearly a year, and us living on a very limited income, where would the money come from? The extended warranty (that’s another story) expired in April.

It just so happened (translate: God-thing) a Christian couple were camped a few sites up from us. On one of his walks around the campground, DH stopped and talked to them. They, as well as everyone in the campground, knew of our predicament. After all, a tow truck had backed our camper in our site then left with our truck.

So they prayed with DH—that the truck would be fixed at no cost to us! Now that’s a bold prayer!

Bold prayers take bold faith. Shameless audacity.

Shameless means disregard for that others may say or think. Audacity is a willingness to take bold risks.

Faith calls us to believe nothing is impossible with God. “It’s the impossible prayers that honor God because they reveal our faith and allow God to reveal His glory,” Batterson noted.

I thought about the impossible scenarios in the Bible: the Red Sea parting and the Israelites walking across on dry ground. The walls of Jericho falling down flat without a hand touching them. Barren Sarah and 100-year-old Abraham having a baby. The virgin birth of Jesus. His miracles. His resurrection.

God specializes in the impossible!

If God can speak the universe into being, can He not take our impossible situations and turn them into HIM-possible ones?

I still don’t know where the money is going to come from to pay for the transmission. But I do know Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. He promises that what we ask will be provided, what we seek we’ll find, and the door will open when we knock.

Oh, yes, the withered tree … “Not only did God break the curse and resurrect the tree,” Batterson wrote, “it became the only tree of its type to yield its fruit not once, but twice a year. A double crop! A double blessing!”

What impossible situation are you faced with today? What bold prayer do you need to pray?

Remember, sometimes you’ve got to ante up all the faith you have, pray with shameless audacity, and let the chips fall where they may.

Dear God, give me the holy boldness to pray the impossible prayers. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 11:5–9; 18:1–8; James 1:2–4.

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Support System

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan; Photo by W.D. Huey

So encourage each other and build each other up. –1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. –Ephesians 6:18 MSG

Wednesday morning found me plopped in my cozy chair for my quiet time. But I was too worn and weary to focus on praying or reading my devotional materials. The weekend had been busy, but a good busy. I’d spoken at a ladies luncheon Saturday, conducted the worship service at the church where I’m the lay pastor and delivered the sermon on Sunday, and officiated a funeral on Monday. I’d come home after the funeral and took a three-hour nap, which left no time for any other work.

Tuesday I did the usual “miscellaneous Monday” items on my schedule, which took up the entire day. By Wednesday I was, as my grandmother used to say, “all pooped up.”

How on earth was I going to complete four devotionals for a quarterly magazine due that day? I hadn’t a clue what to write. I’d read the assigned Scriptures and studied the commentary notes, but nothing jumped out at me.

“These are the worst Scriptures they’ve ever given me,” I complained to my husband.

I was also dealing with the post-speaking spiritual warfare I usually encounter after speaking engagements.

Add to that lower back and hip pain that had progressively gotten worse over the winter. I’d hoped the arrival of warmer, dryer weather would alleviate the constant ache, but it only worsened. It didn’t matter what I did—stretches, short walks, water aerobics, alternating sitting and standing—I was hobbling and hurting all day long. OTC pain relievers help some, but I have to watch what I take so it doesn’t interfere with my blood pressure medicine.

Growing old ain’t fun.

So there I sat with a heating pad on my back, without the slightest inkling of motivation.

But … it was Wednesday, the weekly prayer day for the Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference planning team, of which I’m a member. We’ve gotten close over the 10 years we’ve worked together and now support each other in prayer. Every Wednesday we email our prayer needs to each other.

So I emailed my precious sisters-in-Christ: “Sorry for bothering you so much. This is the time the adversary attacks most viciously—after speaking engagements and sermons, and I delivered three over the weekend. Too weary to fight the battle or even put on my armor.”

To which Margaret replied: “That’s okay. We will cover you with our prayers. Now just rest assured that you are loved, and the ONE who loves you never gets tired.”

Thursday morning I emailed them:

“Your prayers made all the difference yesterday. In the morning I was weary and worn, wondering how I would meet my deadline. I wanted to stay plopped in my cozy chair all day. I had no idea what I was going write on the assigned Scriptures. I faced the day drained mentally, physically, and emotionally.

“This morning I re-read what I emailed you. ‘Was that only yesterday?’ I thought.

“Not only did I meet my deadline of four devotionals (and was amazed at how they came together!), but I took a short walk around the garden after lunch and made a pastoral visit to the hospital in the evening. Where did the energy come from? Your prayers!”

And now that I think of it, my back didn’t bother me at all Wednesday night.

Just like a bridge needs a support system for it to hold up and do what it was designed to do, so do we.

How about you? Do you have a support system?

Thank you, Lord, for those who help us over, under, around, and through each day with their faithful prayers. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ecclesiastes 4:9–12.