March 21, 2014

Big prayers . . .

Most days I go outside to pray and walk. During that time, I get some of my best ideas. Some of them are solutions to problems. Others are direction for the day or clear indication what to do about issues on my heart.

God is like that with prayer. He speaks and I’m learning to listen. However, His promptings are sometimes unexpected. Consider Paul. Right after his conversion, logically he would link up with mature Christians to be mentored, but that was not the case . . .

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. (Galatians 1:15–17)

The Bible says very little about what happened to this great Christian leader while he was in Arabia, except that it was not a short visit. Obviously God urged him to go there, and met him in that unusual location to give the instruction he needed for the task he’d been called to do.

In the Old Testament, one of Joshua’s prayers resulted in a creative and controversial event that must have shocked this man even as he said it . . .

At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:12–14)

A few scientists think they have proven this true (many think otherwise), but the validity of amazing answers to prayer isn’t about proof. Instead, this is more about the answer to these questions: “How big is your God?” Can’t He do whatever He wants to do?

Jesus said that faith in prayer gives us power. He told one person that “All things are possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23) For me, that means being open to God when I pray. Does He seem to suggest that I pray outlandish requests? I’m pragmatic, hard to convince, and yet not totally skeptical. When I pray, sometimes God puts odd thoughts in my mind, thoughts like, “Why pray for only those few cult members when you know I can change the lives of their entire membership?”

Praying such huge prayers does not mean that I have to be a super saint. The Bible says, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (James 5:17–18)

The Bible is clear about this; praying ‘big’ prayers has little to do with who I am and a great deal to do with the size and power of my God.

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