Radical Answers to Radical Prayer Do Happen!
Written By Andrew Jones
When I saw that it was my job to write this blog about radical prayer, I was immediately intimidated. As I sat down to write it, the feeling got worse. Here’s why: there are two equal but opposite dangers when we examine God’s work through radical, nature-altering, miraculous prayer.
The first danger is to say that miraculous answers to prayer are commonplace. And if that is not true of our experience, it’s because we lack faith. This is not true. While the Scriptures and the church’s experience in the world are full of God’s radical answers to prayer, the takeaway should not be that some have more faith than others, or that God plays favorites.
The second dangerous thought process is this: God never answers radical prayers, so we shouldn’t ask for miraculous things. This is probably my greatest temptation, and the greatest temptation of the modern western church in general. It is this danger that recently led pastor Jon Tyson to remark on Twitter about the American church: “So much content. So little power.”
That one hit me. My tendency is to feel more comfortable with the stories of radical prayers of obedience. And honestly, I do think these are the most powerful prayers we see in Scripture. It’s Daniel’s friends saying, “God doesn’t need to save us. Just kill us.” It’s Paul getting a big old “No” from God when he prayed three times for relief. It’s Jesus saying “Not my will, but Your will be done” under the shadow of the cross.
BUT. These are not the only stories. There are moments, even today, where God alters history, defies gravity, changes hearts, and moves tangibly. Those stories, if I let them, can increase my faith.
When a congregant tells me that his liver, decimated by malaria overseas, was miraculously healed through prayer and doctors can’t explain it, when I read about a pastor in Iran who shared the gospel with a Taliban warlord, and he actually came to faith in Jesus, when I write off a marriage or a relationship as hopeless and destined to fail, and God raises it from the dead my faith should increase! And my prayers should reflect that I have access to a God for whom, truly, all things are possible. They aren’t promised, but they are possible!
How about you? When you are confronted with obstacles in life, do you turn to prayer as a first step or a last resort? Is your prayer life weighted more toward what is likely to happen, or around the promise of God’s power and presence with you? Would you call your prayer life alive and active, or half-hearted and stale?
Here’s my takeaway. I want a prayer life that, yes, reflects obedience to God and trust in His plan more than anything. But I also want a prayer life that is bold, faith-filled, and expectant that for our God, nothing is impossible. I hope you do, too.
Week 10 of 10 Prayer
Read this short reflection on John 7:38 from Erasmus Sarcerius, a pastor and theologian who lived in Germany in the 16th century.
As we continue our journey through the Gospel of John, watch this five minute video to prepare us for the upcoming Sunday’s passage.
Click for video preview of what to expect this week in theFormed.life.