Christina and I were talking with our friends Isaiah and Kat Whelpley when we began talking about the things that we pray for. I was telling them how uncomfortable I was praying for specific healing and for specific movements of the Spirit. Who am I to try to manipulate the will of God? Finally at one point Kat said something I’ve never forgotten.
“Evan, when I get to heaven, I hope that God tells me that I spent my life asking far too much of him. I would rather him say that then have him ask why I asked so little of him.”
My gut reaction to what she said was to tell her how backwards her statement was but then I realized the beauty of what she had said. God would never tell us we were asking too much of him because God filled the whole Bible with commands, encouragements, and stories showing us his great desire to be everything to and for us!
It’s amazing, as I look back on this past summer, how little I actually ask of God. I mean, there’s been some major stuff that has happened this summer and decisions I’ve made that will have lasting influence. On the flip side there are things that I never gave a second thought to whether or not I should be seeking the wisdom, provision, or rebuke of God. Maybe I have this innate desire to show him how capable I am. Maybe I want to free him up to help all those big prayers from people in dire circumstances. Wouldn’t God get frustrated if I got dibs on his time/provision/power just before an orphan from the Congo prayed for safety, shelter, family, and healing? Whoops, my bad.
I was able to worship with an old community of friends tonight and was reminded the subtle dangers of vague and ambiguous prayer. In my general prayers for health, wealth, and blessing or my ambiguous requests for patience, love, and strength two things tend to happen. I lose my sense of trembling and awe in the presence of God because it becomes increasingly harder for me to see or recognize the answers to these prayers. Also, in the midst of vague or ambiguous prayer I become increasingly self reliant because these prayers are generally a blanket covering for things that I know I can manage if I get in a real bind.
Tonight we read passages out of Luke 8 tonight and saw how boldly specific peoples’ requests, statements, and actions were of and to Jesus.
Keep my daughter from dying.
Heal my bleeding.
We are going to drown!
Even a demon says, “Do not torture me!”.
All statements that leave little room for ambiguity.
Hebrews 12 says that Jesus is the initiator and perfecter of our faith. Within my prayer life lies a very clear barometer of my intimacy and faith with my walk with Jesus. I believe that one of the greatest ways Jesus initiates faith within me is through prayer. As I pray He reciprocates through gifts of visions, knowledge, and calling that speaks to what lays ahead of me. He then perfects my faith when I see that which he revealed to me come to pass. But between the initiating and perfecting lies my work of believing. Jesus gives me the boat, oars, wind, compass, and lays before me my destination, I need to be the one who pulls up the anchor.
I can never set God up for failure through any of my prayers. His reputation is not at stake every time I ask him for specific healing, provision, reconciliation, vision, or wisdom. What is at stake is the depth of faith I am willing to live by and the amount of new creation I’m going to experience by the Creator.
Yeah, this week I’m going to spend all my time trying to ask God for too much. Pray for me. My week may have a few of these moments….
“Where is your faith?” Jesus asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this?” Luke 8:25