How many times have you sung that simple song, “How Great is Our God”? Yet how many times have you invested time in prayer for a specific request and quickly added provisions, excuses, and qualifications to protect that “great” God from the embarrassment of not answering?
It’s as if we’re unwilling to really let go of our prayer.
I know I’ve done it. Recently, we have been praying that our house would sell. So far, nothing. I can feel my grip tightening. My list of excuses growing.
All too often, our prayers sound like this:
God, we know that all things work together for good and that you may have another plan and that you are sovereign over all things, O great God, so that you may have other plans, like I said, and the answer may well be a resounding “No!” — and that would be fine, O Lord, but if it wouldn’t be too much of a burden, [quickly insert request here] BUT, nevertheless, Lord, give me the grace to accept your answer and endure the denial of this request that I have just made so that when you do not do anything on my behalf, I may save face before my friends and family….
Well, maybe that last part doesn’t actually come out of our mouths. But it’s as if we don’t really expect our great God to give any great answers. Like we don’t believe He will. Or can. At least not for us. So we don’t pray as if He will.
Just who exactly are we protecting when we pray with such an extensive list of qualifiers? Could it be that we’re just hedging our own bets, lowering our own expectations to avoid feeling disappointed when our feeble prayers bounce off the ceiling and boink us on the head? Is it any wonder that they fail to move God to action?
Just how great is my God anyways?
Consider these wise words from EM Bounds:
We need a quickening faith in God’s power. We have hedged God in until we have little faith in his power. We have conditioned the exercise of His power till we have a little God, and a little faith in a little God.
The only condition which restrains God’s power, and which disables him to act, is unfaith. He is not limited in action nor restrained by the conditions which limit men.
The conditions of time, place, nearness, ability and all others which could possibly be named, upon which the actions of men hinge, have no bearing on God. If men will look to God and cry to Him with true prayer, He will hear and can deliver, no matter how dire may be their state, how remediless their conditions may be.
Strange how God has to school His people in His ability to do!
Strange indeed, if He is as great as we sing Him to be.
The God of the Bible, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, who delights to give good gifts to His children, who did not spare even His only Son for us — is infinite. That’s how great God is. Regardless of how big your box is, it’s too small for God.
God is bigger than the boxes we’ve put Him in. ~ Seth Barnes
How great — or small — is your God? A quick check of your prayers might tell you more than you want to know. Ask yourself how much of your prayer do you take back from God’s hands even while you are offering it to Him?
Prayer puts God work in His hands, and keeps it there! ~ EM Bounds
Is our God the one who can do far more than we can ask or imagine? Maybe we should start praying like it.
Have you noticed a similar urge to hold back in your prayers or to offer excuses in advance for God not answering? Share your story of prayer success — or failure — to help us all live with abundant faith.