I don’t pray very gutsy prayers.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt about God’s ability to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that I can ask or imagine. My trouble is, I know His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts. What if God’s plans don’t match my longings?
So often, in lieu of risking it all on the alter of supplication, I spend my hour of “prayer” whittling my thoughts and fears down to a point. There, I decide the course of action I must take to bring about my will in the matter. The trouble is, even once I’ve identified a compromise between what I want and what God might do, I’m left only with my feeble power to effect the situation.
Oh how sad that must make our Father, that we are so fearful of His possible answers that we rely on our own impotence. How it must crush Him that, regardless of what we say we believe, we act as though our goodness exceeds His.
My pastor recently told a self-deprecating story that illustrated this classic, human mistake:
He and his wife lived very meagerly for the first several years of their marriage. When household items and appliances broke, they often remained broken as they couldn’t afford to fix or replace them.
When they were finally ready to leave their starter house, the realtor came by to the assess the house. She told them, “You will need to disclose everything that is broken or doesn’t work.”
“Well,” my pastor informed her, “This outlet in the living room doesn’t work.” He proceeded to explain that when they wanted to watch television, they drug out an extension cord, stretched it into the kitchen, unplugged the refrigerator and temporarily employed that outlet to run the TV. Afterwards (hopefully not too long) they reconnected the fridge and put everything away.
The realtor looked at him like he was slightly crazy, then pointed to a light switch. “What does that switch do?”
“Nothing,” came the reply.
Suddenly, it dawned on my pastor. All along, the power to run the outlet, and therefore the television, had been available. However, in a hustle to watch their shows, and a bit irritated at the inconvenience, he and his wife had come up with their own solution.
God’s power is always, already available to us. It may come from a different place, enact a different outcome, perhaps even irritate or surprise us, but is always available and always the better option.
Before closing his sermon, my pastor shared one other story that convicted me about my attitude concerning God’s power and the necessity of drawing upon it—even upon the chance that He may not answer as I hope.
A friend of Martin Luther’s lay dying. Having already lost the ability to speak, he penned a letter to Luther telling him that he would soon go to be with the Lord. Martin Luther wrote this response:
“I command you in the name of God to live. Because I still have need of you in the work of reforming the church. The Lord will never let me hear that you are dead, but will permit you to survive me. For this I am praying because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”
God answered the prayer that Luther dared to pray, relying solely on the power of the Creator and Sustainer of life. The friend recovered and outlived Martin Luther by two months.
Perhaps this doesn’t assuage all your concerns about whether or not God will answer in the affirmative those prayers that you dare to “command in the name of God.” I don’t think those anxieties will ever fully fade until we see Him face to face, can know Him even as we are fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12) and anticipate accurately what God will do based on our fully accurate understanding of Him.
However, these truths remain and I hope are rooted more deeply in your heart than ever before: God is powerful to do anything we ask or imagine. God’s power is always available to us for our good. God is thrilled when we come to know His heart and thus pray. And, God delights to answer us according to His will, and for His glory.
Do you pray gutsy prayers? What has been the outcome? What do you do when God doesn’t answer as you wish?