Yesterday’s post – What is prayer? – had a really positive response, so thanks to everyone for reading and sharing it. I thought I would continue on the theme of prayer today.
i heard a story this morning which I wanted to share with you. I retell it below in my own words. I’ve no idea if it is true, but it sends a clear message even if fictional.
Alexander the Great was the leader of a huge empire which stretched across much of the world. Despite this, he never forgot the needs of his people and one day every year he would invite randomly selected citizens to come and ask him for something. Whatever they wanted, he would grant it if it was within his power.
For many years, people would come and ask for small things. One would ask for enough food to eat. Another would request some new clothing.
One year, a peasant was selected and he stood before the great leader. Unlike the others, he asked for a great palace to live in, and the resources to invite all his friends and family to come and dine in the palace and take care of them.
Without hesitation, Alexander the Great said “Yes!”
Later, Alexander was asked why he would grant such a lavish request. His response was telling. “Anyone could give extra food or clothes, you do not need to be anyone special for that. But this request made me feel like a king! For only a king could give what this man had asked for.”
I wonder if our prayers to God the Father are somehow reflected in this story?
When I think about my own prayer life, I am humbled to realise that i do not pray anywhere near “big enough.” How often do we find ourselves saying something like, “God, if you would just….” or “Even if you could give a little help…” What does this betray about how we think about God or ourselves?
Perhaps we think God is not powerful enough to handle our prayers? Or, more likely, perhaps we think we do not deserve to receive answers to such big prayers?
Let me reassure you today, God can handle any prayer you care to offer to Him. The lights in heaven will not dim if you ask too much of God. God created the heavens and the earth, and He raised Christ Jesus from the dead. Is anything too hard for God?
Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the time set for it, I will return to you—about a year from now—and Sarah will have a son.”
Genesis 18:14 (ISV)
Abraham and Sarah became parents at a very old age, and that was not too difficult for God.
On the other point, do you deserve to have God answer your biggest prayers? No, absolutely not. But that is why we do not pray in our name, but in the Name of Jesus.
If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.”
John 14:14 (ISV)
When we pray in Jesus’ Name, we are approaching the throne of God presenting all that Jesus is and has done. We do not go on our own merits, but on Christ’s. When God looks upon us, He no longer sees our sin and sinfulness, but the perfection achieved by Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross.
I once heard someone say, “I’d rather ask God for everything and get some of it, than ask for nothing and get all of it.” We rarely ask for the “big stuff” because we often don’t think big enough.
There is much I learn from my own children on this point. My daughters rarely limit what they ask for. It does not matter how big it is, they go ahead and ask. It never crosses their mind that I might not be able to deliver! And even when I say no (far too often I am sad to admit) it does not faze them one bit – they just go on and ask for the next thing.
If we ask for more in prayer, then what is the worst than can happen? If we ask for anything from God which is not His will, then it will not happen. So move on and ask for something which is in His will. Clearly we should not be asking for things prohibited by the Bible, but don’t limit God by assuming He will say no before you’ve even asked. At least give God the right to refuse!
Set your minds on God, not just what He has done, but on Who He is. Not only is He all powerful, but He loves you so much He gave us His Son to die for you! If we begin to grasp the depth of His love and the strength of His power, then we will never cease to pray!
Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us—
Ephesians 3:20 (ISV)
God can do far more than we can ask or even imagine. How “big” is your imagination? How much more is God than that!
Start today. Let’s stop praying these tiny prayers as if we are bothering God. Let each one of us, as we pray, use our imaginations to go beyond whatever it is we were about to ask for. Take your prayer and multiply it first, then dare to go further and ask God to achieve it. He is able!
Bear in mind that prayer is not primarily about getting everything we want. Ask for your needs and wants of course, but let us all pray in ways which will last for eternity, not just the here and now.
We praise the Living God who hears our prayers and can do all things! Nothing is impossible for Him! Let us magnify and multiply our prayers a hundred-fold, and give God all the glory as we see the answers come! Amen!