“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.”Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV
I don’t know about you, but I spent a lot of years thinking that prayer was basically a one-way conversation in which I’d ask God for what I thought would be good and then see what happened. If my relationships or circumstances lined up with my requests, I would know that God had said yes. If not, he said no.
I didn’t begrudge God when he turned me down (I knew verses like Isaiah 55:9 ESV, which explains that God’s ways and his thoughts are higher than ours), but I much preferred it when I’d put in a prayer and get the answer I wanted.
I liked it when prayer worked like a vending machine.
But that’s not how Jesus sees prayer. His model for prayer, as outlined in John 15:7 (NIV), is based on attachment. “If you remain in me,” he says, “and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” Put another way, when we stay connected to Christ and allow his words to soak into our souls and give shape to our prayers, we can pray with the full and wholehearted expectation that God will answer.
“Immeasurably more” than we ask or imagine.”
And we don’t know—we can’t know—all the good things that God might have in store as we ground our prayers in his Word. He specializes in doing more—immeasurably more—than all we ask for or imagine.
One year, for example, I decided to pray 2 Peter 1:2 (NIV) on behalf of one of my dearest friends and prayer partners. Suzanne (not her real name) is a gal whose zeal for life is almost unmatched—she lives big, you might say—and the word abundance in that verse caught my eye.
“May grace and peace be hers in abundance,” I prayed for my friend, again and again.
What I didn’t know—what I couldn’t have known—was that Suzanne would come up against some incredible challenges in her workplace that year, including rumors and lies that eventually led to her leaving her job. Had she not been thoroughly covered in God’s grace and peace, the fear and anxiety that tried to capture her heart during that difficult season might have succeeded. As it was, Suzanne weathered a six-month-long storm and, when she came out of the darkness, she found herself in a new job, one far more fulfilling (and financially rewarding) than anything she could have imagined.
I was asking God for abundance. He was willing to provide that (and he did) but he knew my friend would need his grace and peace even more.
And here’s the thing about praying the Scriptures. We don’t do the blessing, the healing, the providing, the protecting. That’s God’s job. Our job is simply to be the conduit for his power. Our prayers release God’s provision.
Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian writer, put it like this: “Our prayers thus lay the track down which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails.”
Let’s lay the track down, looking to God to unleash his power and do immeasurably, abundantly more than all we ask or imagine.
In His Word
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 NIV)
In Your Life
Where do you long to see God’s provision? Do you believe he is able—and willing—to give you all that you need? What would it look like for you to “lay the track down” through your prayers?
Read more about how our prayers release God’s provision in Praying the Scriptures for Your Life: 31 Days of Abiding in the Presence, Provision, and Power of God. You’ll discover what connection to Christ looks like in everyday life and be equipped to pray about everything from your relationships, to using money and time, to overcoming worry and fear.