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.

More Than You Can Handle

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Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.  – Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

“God won’t give you any more than you can handle.”

You’ve heard that said many times, I’m sure—maybe even have said it yourself. The words are meant to comfort someone going through a difficult time.

But it isn’t true.

Gasp! What?

Doesn’t the Bible say God won’t allow a something to be more than we can stand? You may cite 1 Corinthians 10:13. But that verse says God won’t allow a temptation to be more than we can endure—temptation, not trial. There’s a difference.

Trials and tribulations are the hard times we go through, the times when we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Temptations are enticements to do wrong, to sin.

Trials, tribulations and temptations are all times of testing. Therein lies the confusion.

The Bible doesn’t tell us that God won’t give us any more hard times than we can endure. At times He does. Think about grief, loss, betrayal.

What does the Word tell us, then?

That troubles will come: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all (Psalm 34:19). “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jesus, as quoted in John 16:33).

To “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

To pray about it. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15).

Jesus Himself invites us to come to Him with our heavy burdens and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28).

Oh, I could go on and on and on, citing Scripture.

But did you notice something about every Scripture I did quote?

Read the second part: God cares, delivers, overcomes, guards, gives rest.

Relief, strength, and victory come from God alone. Not our striving. Not our wit and wisdom. Not our own ingenuity.

Much is said and written about self-help. About overcoming in our own strength. About pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. About independence. We pride ourselves on how we can overcome difficulty without anyone’s help.

But we were never meant to be independent of our Creator. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

When Joshua stepped into Moses’ sandals, he faced an overwhelming task: Lead the Israelites in battle to conquer the Promised Land.

Yikes! They faced crossing a river at flood stage, taking walled cities, and facing the giants of the land (the Anakim).

In short, it was a tall order—an impossible feat—without the help of El Shaddai.

And that’s what God wants us to realize as we face our Anakim, when we’re up to our necks in a flood-stage torrent, when we stare at a stubborn wall we can’t get through.

That with His help, we can do all things, but only through Him who gives us the wisdom, strength, and power to do so (Philippians 4:13).

He wants you to depend on Him.

Do you?

As I lift my eyes to the imposing and impossible mountain before me, remind me that my help comes from You. Help me to depend on You to overcome. Amen.

More tea: Read Joshua 1:1–9. The Psalms are excellent to read when facing the giants, especially Psalms 42 and 121.