You can never out pray God. Let me rephrase that; you can never ask for a request that God is unable to answer. He is able to answer beyond anything you could ever ask for. We not only need to believe that truth but to also pray it and live it out.
There’s a story from the life of Elisha that always interests me. In it, Jehoash, the king of Israel, visited the dying prophet. The king was concerned about the condition Israel was in as they faced their enemy. Elisha rose from his deathbed, and told the king to go to the window and shoot an arrow of victory. After shooting the arrow, Elisha told the king to strike the ground with the remaining arrows. The interesting part of this story is that the prophet was angry after Jehoash struck the ground three times. “You should have struck the ground five or six times: then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.” (2 Kings 13:19)
Apparently, the number of times the king struck the ground was telling to the amount of faith he had.
Before you dismiss this story away as a cultural curiosity, ask yourself how many times you would have struck the ground. How often do you stretch your faith and believe God to work beyond the reasonable?
Prayers are answered according to our faith. When we believe God to work, and step out in accordance to deep faith, we experience amazing answers to prayer. It’s that simple.
Too often our faith is limited by offering prayers and requests to God that fit in the category as reasonable. I wouldn’t be surprised if the king thought that three strikes were reasonable enough to fulfill the request of the dying prophet.
But they weren’t. They came up short of the full victory. They were faithless.
It’s not wrong to raise the bar higher than ‘enough’ when praying for the needs of others as well as our own.
As a matter of fact, it’s wrong not to.
I’d like to remind you of the biblical account of the two times Jesus fed the thousands. (Mark 6:31-44, and Mark 8:1-9). In these two accounts, a crowd of 5000 and a crowd of 4000 were fed with just a few fish and loaves of bread. Both times several baskets of leftovers were gathered after the people ate their fill. Jesus didn’t provide enough, he provided beyond their needs.
When we stretch our faith and ask God to go beyond reasonable requests, his powerful glory is revealed. Lives are impacted. And we are blessed.
Since studying this story in the book of Kings, my prayer has often been that I will strike the ground beyond the number of times I think is reasonable. I ask God to grant me the grace to expect more of him and to trust him for full victory, whatever that means.
Philipps Brooks, an author and pastor from the mid 1800s once wrote “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger.”
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than al we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20)
Trust God to work. Believe him to answer more than reasonable prayers.
Be willing to reach into your bag of faith and strike the ground with all the arrows you can find. He is able.