February 29, 2016

Impossible Prayers

Today’s newspaper, as usual, has disturbing articles. ISIS is using social media to recruit followers. A man in China killed his entire family then himself. The leadership race in the USA often seems like a gong show. Canadian leaders are proposal legal changes that protect the rights of terrorists. And on it goes.

How does the average person respond to this? How should a Bible-believing Christian respond to it? Some use the newspaper as their prayer guide. Today’s devotional reading motivates me to pray larger than I usually do. Not that I don’t pray requests that seem humanly impossible, but this challenges me to talk with God about more of these ‘totally beyond me’ issues.

The Bible story is about a man who asked what most people would consider impossible. Chambers points out that not only was his request too much for the crowds who heard it, even the act of his asking disturbed them.

As (Jesus) drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” (Luke 18:35–41)

Chambers asks, “What is the thing that not only disturbs you but makes you a disturbance?”In prayer gatherings, I’m disturbed when people pray only that which seems likely, or for things that make them comfortable. What is it that keeps us from approaching God with difficult issues or from asking Him to use our pain to help us grow?

Chambers says we limit Him because of past failures. If someone needed healing and died instead, or if a job interview was not productive, or if a test was failed, the pattern of hearing ‘no’ from God can put a damper on prayer. I’ve noticed when someone dares to pray those impossible requests or that God’s will is done no matter what, some ‘amens’ might be heard, but others in the group don’t seem too excited about those prayers. Uncomfortable could be a better word. Is this like the crowd was disturbed by the blind beggar because he dared to call out to Jesus? Or because he asked Jesus for something that seemed impossible?

Chambers adds that whatever disturbs me is always something I cannot deal with myself. Obviously I’m not able to deepen the level of faith in others. All I can do is persist in praying about the things that deeply burden me, getting face to face with the Lord, and as Chambers says, being determined to not deify common sense. God does not work in commonsense ways, but in supernatural ways. If what is on my heart seems impossible to me or to others, I still must talk to the Lord about it, whether others are disturbed or not. Only God can answer these things.

The beggar received his sight. Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well.” Could my faith stop ISIS or change the hearts of despairing people, or affect the politics in North America? No, but God can change things. At times, He might seem to be “passing by” when actually His ears are open waiting for a beggar to express those impossible requests on her heart.

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