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Pray According to God’s Ability, Not Yours

Stop stressing about praying “right” and rely on God’s willingness to hear—and answer.

Pray according to God's ability, not yours.

What would you do for your children if you could?

My wife and I were always careful to provide for our son and our daughter, without spoiling them. We did our best to give them good things while also insisting that they learn to save and plan to earn and buy things themselves. While other families we knew gave their children new cars on their 16th birthdays (or soon after), we acquired a used Jeep Cherokee for both of our kids to share once they both had driver’s licenses. Even then, we didn’t give the car to them; they were expected to make payments to us and traded weeks as the primary driver (our daughter, however—who is the older of our two children—would tell you that she got the better end of the deal because her younger brother was grounded so often that she got to drive the Jeep far more often than he did).

Still, while I didn’t want to raise spoiled kids (and if you knew them today, I’m sure you would agree that they both matured into thoroughly unspoiled, well-rounded adults), there have been many times I wished I could have given them more—or better—things than our financial situation usually permitted. Disney World, for example (though they visited twice as kids). And college (we sent them both to fine schools, but I wish we hadn’t had to cut as many corners as we did).

Maybe you can identify. Maybe there are things right now that you wish you could do for your children or grandchildren, if you weren’t limited by time, space or resources.  

But our Father in heaven is not limited. He is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful. He is not a creature but the Creator. He is no victim of circumstances but the victor over every circumstance. He is not bound by the laws of nature—or by the state of the economy. He transcends every limitation. He owns and controls and rules all. He is your boss’s Boss. He is your king’s King. He is Ruler of Storms and the Hope of the Desolate. When Jesus tells us to pray to “our Father in heaven,” He is telling us to pray in the reality, the awareness, of God’s unlimited ability. In Too Busy Not to Pray, pastor and author Bill Hybels wrote:

Many of us have pressing personal needs and serious problems that ravage our lives, but we don’t ask God for help because somewhere, well beneath our surface layer of faith and trust, we don’t believe God has the power to do anything about them.

The fact is, of course, that God is capable of handling any problem we could bring him. Creating planets isn’t much of a problem for him. Neither is raising the dead. Nothing is too difficult for God to handle—but he’s waiting for us to recognize his power and ask for his help

So when you pray, remember that your Father in heaven is able—abundantly able, infinitely able. He is able to anoint and depose kings. He is able to part waters. He is able to raise the dead. He is able to do what He says He will do (see Romans 4:21, if you don’t believe me). And He “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). “For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37, NIV). “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, NIV). Nothing is too hard for Him (see Jeremiah 32:17).

Pray in the awareness that God is not limited as earthly parents often are. You don’t have to get the words “just so.” You don’t need to get His attention or convince Him of your need. You don’t need to advise Him in the details. When you ask, He hears. What you ask for, He can give. He knows what His children need and when they need it, and He is able to hear and answer and “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). 

Adapted from The Red Letter Prayer Life: 17 Words from Jesus to Inspire Practical, Purposeful, Powerful Prayer by Bob Hostetler, Barbour Books.

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