- From the Editor -
“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.” (Acts 12:5-16)
I want to talk to you on this subject: Why Do We Expect So Little? James had been killed with a sword, now Peter is imprisoned and marked for public execution tomorrow. The church had gathered together, praying for God to deliver their leader. One was already dead, and they are praying for Peter. The Bible tells us in verse 5 that prayer was made without ceasing of the church, unto God, for him. They were praying specifically for Peter, that God would intervene and do a miracle. We read God answered that prayer, and he was miraculously delivered from the prison. When he came to himself and realized he was not having a vision, God has actually sent His angel and delivered me, he headed straight to the house of the mother of John Mark, where he knew people would be gathered in prayer.
But when he arrived there and began to knock at the gate, a young girl by the name of Rhoda came, and when she heard Peter’s voice, she recognized him and ran back in, saying, “Peter is at the gate.” They have had their prayer answered, he’s standing at the gate, and they said, “Now honey be quiet, you are messing up the prayer meeting. It could not be Peter. He’s in prison.”
She said, “I am telling you, it is Peter.” They said, “You are crazy. Maybe it is his angel, but it could not be him.” I’m not sure how long Peter was left there waiting. The Bible says when they finally came and opened the gate, and saw him, they were astonished. The word astonished means to be amazed, surprised, or confounded, literally to be dumbfounded, as in “I can’t believe this happened.” What were they doing in the prayer closet if they weren’t expecting anything to happen? Why bother going through the motions if I don’t have enough faith to anticipate God doing something in my behalf? You know, prayer is not a ritual. Prayer is getting into the presence of God and obtaining an answer. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Usually, if I am helping, it implies that I am assisting somebody else, and in this case, they were interceding for Peter. They were begging for mercy and grace, for a miracle that would spare his life.
I submit to you that somebody prayed the prayer of faith because James 5:15 says it is the prayer of faith that will save the sick, that has power, and faith as we discussed is dependency upon God, and expectancy from God. “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:15-16)
It is very clear that the vast majority of the people in that prayer meeting were not expecting anything to happen, and when it did, they were shocked. But maybe there was one little girl, Rhoda, who prayed the prayer of faith. Matthew 18 makes it clear that children really don’t need adult reasoning powers, adults need childlike faith. Jesus said, “Except you become as little children and have that simplicity of faith, taking God at his word.”
When I was a boy, I would be on the edge of the garage roof, and my dad would say “Jump!” I never even thought about it. I trusted him completely, and he never failed me. I trusted him enough to jump without hesitation. Somebody at that prayer meeting prayed the prayer of faith because God answered, but it is apparent when they were astonished, that not everyone was praying in faith.
Folks, we ought not to be astonished when God does the impossible. We ought to be astonished when He doesn’t. We should not be astonished at answered prayer. We should be astonished when prayers are not answered. We ought to be surprised when God does not answer and searching our hearts to find out why the answer did not come.
I understand that some people have no expectation of an answer, because they are not even in the family. Jesus instructed, “When you pray, say ‘Our Father.’” God is not everybody’s Father. John 1:12 said, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” Those who receive Jesus Christ experience the miracle of the new birth, they are now sons of God by virtue of receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior. I understand why a lost man has no confidence, no anticipation of prayer being answered. The Bible says that we are supposed to cry Abba Father, and I need to get born into the family before I can do that. Now understand, a father does not have the same obligation to every child in the neighborhood that he has to those that call him dad. He may be good to everybody, but he does not have the same obligation to every child that he has to those who are his own. They have been born into his family. He is their father.
Our Heavenly Father tells us that I have to come through Jesus Christ to have access. A lost man according to Ephesians 2 has no hope, he is dead in his trespasses and sins. Well, if he is spiritually dead, and according to John 4:24, God is a spirit, and the lost man is spiritually dead, he can’t even get on the same wave length. I can understand why the lost man does not pray, or why when he prays his foxhole prayer in a disastrous situation, he prays with no anticipation, no expectation. He has no history, no time that he was born into the family. He is still spiritually dead trying to commune with God who is a Spirit. So I understand why a lost man won’t expect anything enough to even bother to pray.
I will go a little farther than that. There are those who are in the family, but they have no confidence and expectation, because their own heart condemns them. They have things in their lives that they know are an offence to a Holy God. They know that they are estranged from their heavenly Father, and they have no expectation of getting any favorable response when they come to Him unless they come in repentance to try to get that sin right with God. In I John 3:20-22 the Bible said, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” When you have sin in your life, your heart condemns you if you are a born-again Christian, because the Holy Ghost of God pricks your heart and bothers your conscience. Whatever my heart knows, God knows more than that. If we have confidence toward God, whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him for two reasons. Number one, because we keep his commandments. Number two, because we do those things that are pleasing in His sight. What does that mean? That means I go farther than the letter of the law, more than is demanded. When I keep His commandments, I am doing what is commanded. When I am doing what pleases Him, I am doing what I know is pleasing to God even if it is not a command, because I know this pleases Him.
The Bible says in Revelation 4:11 that everything God created he created for his pleasure. The Father is interested in giving me blessing, but he does it so I am capable of glorifying Him. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31) When I was living at home, if I was in trouble with my father, if I was already grounded, then I didn’t ask him for a raise in allowance or special privileges, because I had lost the normal privileges for the time. I was still a son, still in the household, but he had to chastise me rather than give me the things I desired; I had to lose something and feel the sting.
In James 4:4 he said, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” There’s so much worldliness in the lives of God’s people, they are in a conflicting position with a Holy God, and wondering why they don’t have confidence to pray. Their heart condemns them, and I am talking about saved people. The lost man, he can’t even get on the same wave length. He is not in the family. He is a stranger asking for help, not a son. On the other hand, many saved people struggle in prayer, too.
Remember, the prodigal son didn’t contact his father while he was in the far country. “Hey dad, I need some money.” He knew he needed to come home. When he came home, back to the presence of the father, he didn’t have to beg for anything. The father was waiting with open arms to receive him, and everything that boy lacked outside of the will of God he didn’t even have to ask for when he got home. The father put shoes on his feet, a robe on his back, a ring on his finger, a kiss on his cheek, food in his belly, made merry and received him gladly. The father rejoiced and celebrated. He did not try to make it miserable when the boy came home. It is not God keeping us away, but as long as our heart condemns us, we have no confidence in prayer, no expectation of God doing anything, even when we mutter words.
In Genesis 12 Abraham left his inheritance because there was a famine. “After all, if I am having a hard time in the will of God, doesn’t that justify leaving the will of God for a little while?” That was Abraham, a great man of faith, but his faith wavered at this point in time. Up to that point, everywhere Abraham went he built an altar. The Bible says he built an altar in the land, and the Canaanites were in the land. So their presence did not keep him from building an altar. But when Abraham left the will of God and went down into Egypt, he never built an altar in Egypt. Why? Because there is no such thing as disobedient worship. Don’t waste your time building altars when you are outside the will of God. You have no confidence to expect anything from God in prayer as far as favors and blessing when you, yourself, are not interested in the will of God. Come back to Him; His presence is the place of no unmet need. You need to come home, and until you do, your heart will condemn you, and you won’t have any confidence toward God.
There is third reason why we don’t expect great answers to prayer. Some are in the family, but have no confidence because they know their prayer is not for the glory of God, but strictly for the gratification of the flesh. James 4, the Bible says that ye fight yet ye have not because you ask not. He said you ask and receive not why? He said, “You ask and receive not because you ask amiss that you may consume it upon your lust.” It talks about Elijah, and said that he was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed that it might not rain and it rained not. What does his passion have to do with his prayer life? I mean, he has a passion or desire for rain. Elijah was flesh and blood like you and me, and didn’t want a drought anymore than Ahab wanted one. Elijah wanted a cool breeze and refreshing shower like Ahab did. He did not want to have to live at the Brook Cherith and be fed by the ravens. He did not want to have to flee to Zarephath and be fed by a widow, but he prayed against his passion. Instead of him praying for his own gratification, he prayed for the will of God.
Too often in prayer we are trying to impose our will on God instead of praying for the will of God. Instead of praying against our passion, we are driven by are carnal desires. “Oh God make it fun” and “Oh God make it easy” and “Oh God make me prosperous.” God does not mind blessing us, and meeting our physical needs. As a matter of fact, He told me to ask for my daily bread. There’s not anything wrong with me asking for things and help and needs met. Psalm 50:15 says, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” God says, “I want you to call on me in the day of trouble. The whole purpose is, I want to meet your needs, but I want you to do this in a way that it is acknowledged I answered. God supernaturally intervened, and God is worthy of our glory. First Corinthians 10:31: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I think that includes praying, too.
In I John 5:14, 15: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” How do I know? Because I am praying according to the will of God. Psalm 37:4: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24) We see very clearly that desire is a real, powerful and necessary element involved in prayer.
In Psalm 37:4: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” What does that mean? It does not mean that God is going to give me everything that I want. What He is saying is that if I delight in the person of God and commune with the person of God, He will give me His desires. Let me prove that to you. How many of you believe in a call to preach? I do. Well the Bible says this in I Timothy 3:1: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” Where did the desire come from? When God called him, He put the desire in him. He gave him the desire to do what He called him to do, and nothing will scratch that itch but preaching when God calls.
It is equally true that God can put the right desires in us if we delight in Him, commune with Him. Now, let me ask a question, “If I am praying with a desire that originated with God, and He put it in my heart while I commune with Him, if I am praying with that kind of desire that originated with God, do you think God can honor that, and do you think that prayer can and will be answered?” Absolutely.
But the problem is that we don’t even understand the concept of prayer. We are constantly bombarding God with our carnal desires, and it is all about me, about the flesh, all about ease, and rarely ever about the glory of God.
So, there are those who are not in the family, and I can understand why they wouldn’t have a great deal of confidence. I understand why the son who has gone to the far country cannot pray with confidence to get an answer. Their heart condemns them because of sin in their lives. They don’t have any confidence. I understand why a person whose desire is all for carnal things, and that is all they pray for, why they never get a prayer answered. They have no confidence. They don’t have a history of answered prayer, because their prayer is always based on gratification of the flesh instead of glorification of God.
But, that was not the problem with these people in Acts 12. These people had a faith problem, and I am convinced that we live in a day and hour when a lot of saved people have a real faith problem. They are not willing to believe God for anything big, and if God does anything big, we are astonished. If He doesn’t do anything, we think that’s the norm. I mean, God does answer prayer, folks. Psalm 65:2 calls Him ‘Thou that hearest prayer, “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” According to I John 5:14-15, I just quoted if I get a hearing, I get an answer. None of those obstacles that we just discussed so far were a problem with these people. These people had a faith problem. One of them didn’t have a faith problem, and prayed in faith and got an answer. I am convinced that it was Rhoda that got a prayer answered. She was the only one that wasn’t astonished. She was excited, but not in disbelief. She believed and didn’t think it was impossible for God to answer prayer and intervene in Peter’s behalf. She certainly had prayed the prayer of faith, and she got her prayer answered.
My question to you tonight is “Why do we expect so little?” Why are we astonished when God does what He promised He would do? Is there any greater miracle than God saving a soul from Hell? Transforming somebody from a child of the devil (John 8:44) to a child of God (John 1:12). I mean, there is no greater miracle, and if God can do that, why are we so shocked that things lesser in importance, God is able to do? Why do we expect so little out of a God who told us in II Corinthians 1:20: “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” Are you in Him? Are you in Jesus Christ? All the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him, Amen. Why do we expect so little out of a God that gave us all of His promises. Why do we expect so little out of the God that told us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” ? (Hebrews 4:16)
Why do we expect so little out of the God who told us in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Why do we expect so little out of the God who promised to show us (that’s personal) “Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” He promised great and mighty things.
Why do we expect so little from the God who told us in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” He didn’t say might be, but shall be. He promises answers to prayer. I need to get on praying ground, but why do we expect so little out of this God?
Why do we expect so little out of the God who told us in James 5:16, “...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (He didn’t say a little bit) He said, “availeth much.” Effectual has to do with potency. Fervent has to do with being stretched to the limit. The righteous man, somebody who is not only justified by faith, but doing the right thing. He said that man’s prayer availeth much. It makes a big difference.
Somebody’s prayer made a big difference for Peter. It wasn’t everybody’s prayer, because some of them weren’t praying the prayer of faith. Some of them were not anticipating God actually giving an answer. Some of them were astonished when God did what they were asking Him to do. They couldn’t believe that it happened.
By the way, our God is the God of the impossible. The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. That is what this Book says. Are you afraid you are going to overtax God? Are you afraid maybe you are going to ask something too big and He won’t be able to do it and you will embarrass Him? Honestly, most of the time, we are not praying for God to do the impossible, we are asking God to do what He already commanded us to do. Instead of us doing everything we can do and praying for God to do what we can’t do, us doing the natural and praying for Him to do the supernatural, us doing the possible and praying for Him to do the impossible, we are asking God to do the possible, our part. He said, “I already told you to do that, and when you get to the end of your resources, you can pray for My supernatural power, and I will do the impossible just like I have ever done in the past.”
Our prayer is to the God who spoke worlds into existence. God said, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” All He had to do was speak. Do you think He would have problems moving a mountain? Isn’t that what Jesus said? “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:21-22) You don’t believe really believe that. You think that’s just an adage or illustration.
Listen to me folks, God can, and God will. He is able, and He is willing, but somebody has to believe God enough to pray the prayer of faith. I think most of what we do is mutter words into the air with no faith and no real prayer, but we are talking about the God that parted the Red Sea and His people walked across on dry ground. Why do we expect so little of a God that could part the Red Sea, and then turn around and close the same Red Sea on the Egyptian army and drown every one of them?
We are talking about the God that could wall up the Jordan River when it was overflowing its banks so His people could cross over into the Promised Land. Why would we doubt His ability? The God who destroyed the army of Sennacherib 185,000 strong. God told the children of Israel, “Just go ahead and go to bed; you don’t need to do anything to win.” They went to bed, woke up in the morning, and it said they woke up to 185,000 corpses. God destroyed the entire army of Sennacherib while they slept.
It does not depend on my ability. It depends on my faith and my all-powerful, miracle-working, prayer-answering God! How big is my God? How big is my faith? What am I willing to believe God for.? We are talking about the God who raised the dead! We are talking about the One who spoke to the storm and the waters laid down and became placid at His feet. Everything in nature obeys Him. In Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Ephesians 3:20 declares that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we could ask or think. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” (Ephesians 3:20) God said, “You can’t think something bigger than I can do if it is within the will of God.” The only thing that lies beyond the reach of prayer is that which lies beyond the will of God. That’s all – the only thing that lies beyond the reach of prayer is that which lies beyond the will of God.
In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “...All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” He said all power. That is power over sin, over death, over devils, over hell, power over nature. All power is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. He said not only do have all power, but I have no limitation as to where I can exercise that power. If an Iowa state trooper is pursuing somebody and they cross the state line into Illinois, he has to call for somebody that has some jurisdiction. He has now left his realm of authority and needs somebody on that side of the state line to go with him. Jesus said, “I don’t have any limits like that. All power is given to me in Heaven and in earth. I can exercise that power in Heaven and on earth. There is no limit to my power, and there is no place I cannot exercise it.” Honestly I think some of our small pathetic prayers, when we even pray, what we anticipate is so far beneath our God, it is an insult. It is almost like we are afraid to ask Him for the impossible or to do great things.
An old Puritan heard a young preacher pray, and he turned to his wife and said, “If any son of mine would approach me so tamely, I would give him the switch instead of the answer.” He was disgusted with the lack of anticipation, faith, and confidence when he prayed, almost apologizing for asking for some meager thing that you can do for yourself.
Years ago, I went out to eat with a wealthy guy. He wanted to be a blessing, so he took me to this fancy steak house. I opened the menu and there were no prices on the menu. That is always a bad sign. So when the waiter came by, I asked, “How much is this steak?” My host, the one who took me there, took offense to the fact that I was worried I might overtax his resources. He brought me there. He knew where he was. He had been there before. When I said “How much is that steak?” He said, “It doesn’t matter how much it is, bring him two of them.” (So I asked several more questions, because I was kind of hungry.) He was simply saying, “I’m buying. You don’t need to worry about the price, I can handle it. Just order what you want and don’t act like I can’t afford to pay for it.” I wonder how God feels with some of the prayers we pray?
On one occasion, Napoléon had offered a general anything he might request if he would win a certain battle. When he came back victorious, he went to Napoléon’s treasurer and asked for an astronomical amount of money. The treasurer gave it to him, and then complained to Napoléon about how much the man had asked for. Napoléon, without hesitation, rebuked the treasurer, and said, “I am a great king. He honors me with his request.”
Our God is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Do you honor Him with your request? It would be a wonderful thing if we had as much faith in God as he had in Napoléon. It would be great if we understood that God is more powerful than any earthly king.
The prayer of faith unleashes the mighty power of God, but we must come to Him in faith. Faith is dependency upon God, and expectancy from God, to the point that the word of God is enough. My faith is not built on wishful thinking or thin air. Faith cometh by hearing, hearing by the word of God. My faith is based on the promises of God of the unchanging word of God, and I expect an answer because God promised one.
Remember those blind men that came to Jesus in Matthew chapter nine? They asked for healing, for their sight. In verse 28, Jesus asked the question, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” He said, :What will ye,” and they said, “Lord that we may receive our sight.” And he said, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Jesus said to them, “Believe ye that I am able to do this.” They said, “Yea Lord.” You know what He said to them next? “According to your faith be it unto you.” Not according to what you said, but according to your faith be it unto you. Apparently, they weren’t kidding. Apparently, they did believe, because both of them received their sight. Jesus said, “According to your faith be it unto you.” So if it is according to your faith, how is it going to go? Believe ye that He is able to do this?
In Matthew 13:58, does it say, “And he did not many mighty works there because of His lack of power”? Oh no, it was because of their unbelief, not because of his lack of power. “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
Five times in scripture, Jesus said to the people He was speaking to, “Oh ye of little faith.” Little faith makes small, pathetic requests if it even takes time to pray. Little faith has very little anticipation of God’s miraculous answer.
Also we need faith for the present. All of us have faith for the past, and faith for the future. Our problem is that we don’t have any present faith. What do you mean by that preacher? We believe every miracle in the Bible. We believe Jesus actually performed them, don’t we? We believe that God spoke the worlds into existence, healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out devils. Do we believe that? Sure.
We believe that there is going to be a Rapture someday. Isn’t that a miracle? The resurrection of the dead in the Rapture. We have faith to believe everything He did in the past and everything He will do in the future. We believe that He is going to renovate the earth, new Heaven, new earth. We believe all of that. That is miraculous and supernatural. So we have faith to believe in everything He did in the past and everything He promised to do in the future, but we think everything is hopeless now.
The sister of Lazarus came to Jesus, and said, “...Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Faith for the past. You could have prevented this Lord, I believe that. If You had been here, my brother would not have died. Jesus said, “Didn’t I tell you that I am the resurrection and the life,” and she said, “Yea Lord. And I believe that you will raise him up at the last day after he returns to dust, when it is worse than it is now. Yea Lord, I believe that you will raise him up at the last day.” She demonstrated faith for the future. But then Jesus said, “Roll away the stone.” She said, “Lord, by this time, he stinketh.” You could have prevented this, faith for the past. And when it is worse than this, you are going to correct it, faith for the future. But right now, it is hopeless.
Are we feeling right at home about now? Do we demonstrate faith for the past and the future, but have no faith that God can do anything in answer to prayer today? “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He is not the same yesterday and forever. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; He is unchanged and unchanging. “I am the Lord. I change not.” His promises are always good.
Why do we expect so little? I believe it is an insult to God’s greatness. In Philemon verse 22, Paul told Philemon, “But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” He said, “I want you to pray for me, but don’t you pray unless you are going to prepare for the answer.” Honestly folks, most of us, if what we are praying for ever came to pass, we wouldn’t know what to do with it. We are not preparing for the answer while we are crying out, because we don’t expect anything to happen, and if it did, we would be astonished, caught by surprise, and unable to handle the answer.
My daughter, Christy, was in Bible College. One day she called me and said, “Dad, I am about $900.00 behind on my school bill.”
I said, “Do you need me to send you some money?”
She said, “No, just pray for me.”
I said, “Well, I will do that.”
A few days later, she called and said, “Dad, I think I found a way to make some money to pay on my school bill.”
I said, “How is that, honey?”
She said, “Selling plasma.”
I said, “No! We are not selling plasma! I started an Evangelism Ministry, helped start 8 churches, a national conference, a monthly paper, I have written 60 books, and I have never sold plasma to finance it. We are not selling plasma.”
I said, “Let me give you a novel idea. Pray.”
About a week later, she called me back, and said, “Guess what dad? Somebody paid $1,000.on my school bill. Now instead of being $900 behind, I am $100 ahead!” (And it wasn’t me.)
I said, “Well, isn’t that a coincidence. God still answers prayer.”
Folks, please listen to me. There is a God in Heaven who hears and answers prayer, and we need to know that, we need to believe that, and we need to pray for the unbelievable and expect it to come to pass, because there is a God who is capable, who has invited us to that throne of grace, unmerited favor.
In Matthew 14:28, Peter requested to do the impossible. Jesus came walking on the water, “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.” I have heard people criticize Peter for stepping out of the boat, but he did not do it without permission. Peter asked permission to do the impossible, and the Lord granted permission. He had enough faith to ask to do the impossible, but he still had to have enough faith to step out of the boat, and the Bible says he began to walk on the water. Now I know that after he started walking, then he saw the winds boisterous and was afraid; he got his eyes off of the Lord and got them on the storm. He got his eyes off of the solution, and got them on the problem. That is when he began to sink, when fear filled his heart instead of faith. When he got to looking at the wrong thing, and he realized the impossibility. He was already doing the impossible, and then allowed the circumstances to rob him of his faith and cause him to fear.
Boy, I wish to God somebody would want to do the impossible. I wish somebody would make the request and say, “Oh God, I know I am not capable of this, but Lord, would you please permit me to do the impossible?” You might be shocked at what God could and would do if somebody believed Him enough to ask what Peter asked. “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” “Lord, I have a desire to do the impossible for Your glory that can only be done by Your power. Would You permit me? Would you allow me?” Do we have enough faith to ask?
George Mueller, on one occasion, was on a wind-driven ship with sails. There were times when there was no wind, they called it the doldrums when the wind did not blow, sometimes for days and weeks at sea. People would die at sea for lack of fresh water and food, because there was no wind.
On one occasion, Mueller, the great man of prayer, was on board a ship, and they had fallen into the doldrums. The captain came to his cabin and said, “Mr. Mueller, they tell me that you are a man of prayer.”
He said, “Well, I am a Christian.”
The captain said, “We are drifting toward an island that is inhabited by cannibals. I need you to pray for wind.”
Mueller said to the captain, “Okay. Go up and have your deck hands set the sails, and I will start praying.”
The captain looked at him and said, “Now look, Mr. Mueller, I want you to pray, but I am not going up there and telling my hands to set the sails when there is no wind. They will think I have lost my mind.”
Mueller said, “Suit yourself, but if you are not going to set the sails, I am not going to pray. If you are not expecting anything to happen, what’s the point in praying?”
The captain said, “Okay, okay!” He went up, and had his hands set the sails and Mueller got on his knees. About 30 minutes later, there was a knock at Mueller’s door, and he was still on his knees. The captain said, “Mr. Mueller, you can stop praying now. We have more wind than we know what to do with.” That is one man’s prayer. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Missionary William Carey, said, “Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.” You know why we don’t attempt great things for God, because we don’t expect great things from God.
Why do we expect so little from Almighty God? Why are we so prayerless and why are our prayers so weak and small and pathetic? Why do we expect so little?