Their hanging heads snapped back, their eyes widened, and their jaws dropped. It was a moment before they could utter, “Reeeeeeally?” Being able to give them what they wanted so much was a wonderful feeling. Although I am certain that most children doubt this, most parents want to give their children everything their hearts desire. They just have enough sense not to.
Sometimes I think we approach God in exactly the same way my boys came to me that day. We have already decided what God will and won’t do. Or maybe it’s that we have decided what God can and cannot do—a far more serious crime. When we know the doctors have said the illness is terminal, for some reason we don’t think we can ask God to heal. God can do whatever he wants to do, regardless of what the doctors say. Don’t we believe that?
Put yourself in the place of those Christians in Acts 12. They were all in danger. Herod had put Peter and James in prison, and had already killed James. When he saw the public opinion polls swing in his direction, he planned to kill Peter too. Yet those Christians risked life and limb to gather at Mary’s house and pray for him. If it were us, I am afraid we would have prayed that his death be swift so he wouldn’t suffer. We would have already given up on his life being spared.
After my first surgeries, the doctor told me it was the first time anyone had performed that operation on a nanophthalmic eye without losing the eye. I am glad he didn’t tell me that beforehand. It isn’t just the extra fear I would have felt. I am afraid it would have changed my prayers because I, too, grew up with the idea that you must not ask God for the impossible.
Mark records Jesus saying, Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that
you have received it and it will be yours, 11:24. Did you catch that? “Believe that you have received it.” Your faith should be such that you know he has already said yes—asking for it is simply a formality.
Jesus died so we could boldly come before the throne of God (Heb 4:16). Too many times we come before God with a hangdog expression, a forlorn hope that he will have any time to spare for us and that our requests will be too petty to catch his attention. We remind him how many outs he has, we lower our expectations to something that won’t be too hard for him, and we always add a “Thy will be done,” not because of our humility and acceptance of his will, but because, like my boys that day, we really don’t expect to get a yes and our weak faith needs a prop. Just exactly how much more insulting do we think we can be to our Divine Creator?
When you pray today, pray “nothing doubting” (James 1:6), and remember that with God “all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). Think about the gift he has already given you—his Son. Why in the world do we think he would withhold anything else?
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him, 1 John 5:14,15.