The Impossible Prayer

We have been looking at some bold pray-ers in the Bible, but today’s example takes it to a whole new level by praying an “impossible” prayer! Here are 4 valuable lessons we can learn from the prayer of Joshua. 

When this story opens, the city of Gibeon is calling on the Israelites to help them. Five Amorite kings have all ganged up on Gibeon because of the treaty they made with Israel, and they intended to crush them into oblivion! 

Joshua—without any debate, consultation, or hesitation—mobilizes his forces. Notice that there are no half-measures or hedging his bets. Joshua marches out with the entire army, including all of his elite warriors to rescue Gibeon. 

Joshua’s troops marched all night to cover the 21-miles to get to Gibeon by daybreak. Modern-day military experts say that an army can cover about 20-25 miles before they are at the point of total exhaustion, so Joshua took his men right up to this point. But this all-night march surprised the five attacking armies, so much so that the Bible says God threw those enemies into a panic and God even fought for them, raining hailstones down on the Amorites that killed more men than the Israelites did in their attack! 

After an all-night march and an all-day battle, the Amorites are on the run. This is when Joshua prays his “impossible” prayer. He asks God to let the earth stop rotating so that the sun and moon in the sky will give the Israelites enough light to complete their victory!!

AND GOD DOES IT!! 

How could Joshua pray such an “impossible” prayer like this? 

  1. He had already seen God do the “impossible” like drying up the Jordan River and knocking down the supposedly impenetrable walls of Jericho.
  2. God already told Joshua, “I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” Joshua didn’t put an asterisk on God’s word—if God said every enemy would be defeated, that’s what Joshua was claiming. 
  3. Joshua was already moving forward in faith. He wasn’t sitting around waiting for God to do something. He was letting his marching be his praying. 
  4. By publicly praying this “impossible” thing, Joshua was ensuring that God would receive all the glory. The Bible says that Joshua prayed “with all Israel listening.” 

The sun stopped in its tracks in mid-sky; just sat there all day. There’s never been a day like that before or since—God took orders from a human voice! Truly, God fought for Israel (v. 14, The Message).

What about you? Does it feel like your problems are ganging up on you like a bunch of bullies? You, too, can pray an “impossible” prayer like Joshua did—

  1. Get God’s Word—what promise will you stand on? Don’t put any asterisks in there! 
  2. Know God’s peace—God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them.” 
  3. Watch God confuse your enemies—when the Israelites showed up God “threw them into confusion,” which literally means He discombobulated them so they couldn’t coordinate their counter-attack on Israel. 
  4. Publicly pray an “impossible” prayer while you fight! Tell others what your “impossible” prayer is so that God gets all the glory.

Join me this Sunday as we learn from another bold pray-er from the pages of Scripture. 

People Are Watching 👀

 “…they watched Him closely… (Luke 14:1). 

The skeptics were always watching Jesus. As with our Master, so with us.

They wanted to find an inconsistency with which they could discount all that Jesus stood for. Thankfully, they found none! May the same be said of you and me.

May our lives and speech (or silence) never cause skeptics to discount the Gospel or—even worse—blaspheme God, nor may our lives cause a weak Christian to doubt or stumble.

This requires from us—

  • Self-awareness … I have to know my tendencies and avoid those things that cause offense.
  • Boldness … to speak the truth in love.
  • Knowledge of the Scripture … and its correct application.
  • God-confidence … so that we’re not intimidated by man’s disapproval.
  • Humility … to not seek things for our own benefit.
  • Charity … as we demonstrate our faith in loving action.
  • Focus … on eternity and on the greater treasure in Heaven.

Holy Spirit, empower us to live like our Master every day. “Adam’s likeness now efface, stamp Thine image in its place.” May people see and hear Jesus in us. No matter how closely they watch us, may they see no inconsistencies.

No Asterisks

This past Christmas I was quite surprised to receive a package in the mail. It was something I ordered as a Christmas gift for my wife. 

Sort of. 

It was actually half of what I thought I ordered. I went back online and discovered some “fine print” that I hadn’t really noticed earlier. 

You’ve probably experienced that too—asterisksfine print … footnotes … hidden fees … “limits and exclusions may apply” are all so frustrating!

Unfortunately, we get so used to these things that we begin to—consciously or subconsciously—plug them into places where they don’t actually belong. So even when Jesus Himself says something that sounds wonderful like, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20), we want to insert an asterisk. 

Or when He says, “And I will do whatever you ask in My name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14), we think we’re supposed to ask, “What’s the catch?” 

Christians are inserting asterisks where they don’t belong and, as a result, are praying timid prayers. 

Why do we pray this way? Perhaps we are…

  1. …fearful of being too bold. But in telling us how to pray, Jesus says God rewards our bold “shameless persistence” in prayer. 

I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence and insistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. (Luke 11:8-9 AMP) 

  1. …unsure that God hears us, cares for us, or even wants to answer us. But the Bible is quite clear that all of these things are true: He hears us, cares for us, and does want to give us what He has promised (1 John 5:14-15; Romans 8:32; Romans 4:20-21).  
  1. …ignorant of what/how to pray. T.M. Moore reminds us, “God has given us three great helps to assist us in our prayers. His Spirit groans for us; His Word guides us; and His Son governs and intercedes for us.” 
  1. …not looking for God’s answer. David said that after praying, he expectantly watched for God’s answer (Psalm 5:3). Indeed, the Aramaic word for prayer means “to set a trap.” 

“He is the God of limitless resources—the only limit comes from us. Our requests, our thoughts, and our prayers are too small, and our expectations are too low. God is trying to raise our vision to a higher level, call us to have greater expectations, and thereby bring us to greater appropriation. Shall we continue living in a way that mocks His will and denies His Word?” —A.B. Simpson 

Why are you hesitating to ask God for even a tiny amount when such vast resources are available? What would happen if you started to pray more boldly? What if you began to make mountain-moving requests? I dare you to try! 

Stop looking for the asterisks and start taking God at His word!

Join me next week as we continue our series on Boldly Praying, looking at some bold pray-ers in the Bible.

Boldly Praying

As a general rule, God would like us to pray much more boldly than we typically do. 

Jesus told us that we could pray mountain-moving prayers! But C.S. Lewis rightly observed, “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.” 

This Sunday we begin a new series of messages called Boldly Praying, in which we are going to consider how we can replace our weak prayers with bold prayers. We’ll be looking at the requests of four bold pray-ers that we meet in the pages of Scripture, and each one of them will teach us a new aspect of bold praying. 

Join us either in person or on Facebook Live. 

If you have missed any of the messages in this series, check out these recaps—

12 Quotes From “Love Like That”

Dr. Les Parrott dives into the loving life of Jesus and takes us with him to discover the five was Jesus loved. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy some of the quotes I especially liked. 

“The great hindrance to true enjoyment is our willingness to settle for pitiful pleasures.” 

“What keeps us from being mindful? I can answer this question with one word: agendas. … Every one of us has the capacity to set aside our self-interest, temporarily. We have the ability at any time to press the pause button on what we want. … That’s the moment we become mindful.” 

“Loving like Jesus is not efficient. It takes time away from our own agenda-driven pace.” 

“Jesus was shockingly accessible to anyone who felt undesirable or unwanted—lepers, Gentiles, tax collectors, the poor and persecuted, pagans and sinners. He wasn’t like other ‘holy men’ in Judea. His fellow rabbis operated on the principles of exclusion and isolation.” 

“If you want to love like Jesus, you can’t limit your love to people who deserve it.” 

“God is happy to give unconditional acceptance and unmerited grace to all who will receive it.” 

“We can’t give grace to others when we are aren’t receiving it ourselves. When we’re busy earning acceptance from God, we start to think everyone else should earn it too. Judgmentalism creeps in. Self-righteousness appears. … When we aren’t cognizant of God’s unconditional acceptance in our own lives, we can’t give it to others.” 

“If you want to love like Jesus, you can’t shy away from what you know is right and true. You can’t remain silent just to go unnoticed. Loving like Jesus is not for the chickenhearted. It requires a fierce commitment to being authentic. It requires a bold commitment to being a truth-teller. … No one accused Jesus of being a pushover—or winsome.” 

“Self-giving is selfishness in reverse. It is not concerned with benefits, and it expects nothing in return. … It comes down to motive. You can be a giver and still expect something in return. … True self-giving is offering the best of who you are to others, and it comes with no strings attached.” 

“The long and short of it is that we love like Jesus when we allow Jesus to love through us. It’s not about our effort. We are not trying to imitate Jesus. It’s an inside job. It’s about being a channel for His love.” 

“Loving like Jesus isn’t achieved as much as it is received.” 

“The word intuition comes from the Latin word intueri, which is roughly translated as meaning ‘to contemplate.’ You see, our intuition stems from what we are considering, what we are sensitive to or attuned to do. … So, if you want to hear from God, you’ve got to slow down enough to clear your head and be attuned to His Spirit. That’s when the sacred gift of God’s whisper is heard—when you become accustomed to His voice.” 

I’ll be sharing more quotes from Love Like That soon, so stay tuned! Updatenew quotes are posted here.

10 Quotes From “Longing For A Changed World”

Longing For A Changed World will help you (re)establish a prayer focus that could be the beginning of the next great revival! You can check out my full book review here, and then enjoy some of the quotes that especially caught my attention.

“Our age, severed from its Biblical moorings, is neglecting history’s lessons.”

“Another characteristic of today’s Church is a lack of prayer. Instead of communing and listening to God, lifting our needs and concerns to the Lord, we rely on our own abilities and in technology to compensate for any inadequacy we may have. Thus armed, we are confident in taking on the challenges of our day, even those spiritual in nature.”

“True revival impacts all aspects of life, even to the concerns of the last, the least, and the lost. A people who uphold justice and righteousness and seeks to alleviate the plight of the poor and needy, are a people truly gripped with revival. For when we are consumed with God’s holiness and how blessed we are by His grace, we are compelled to take this Gospel to all aspects of our culture.”

“Our propensity is to focus on being doers—to be on the battlefield, sword in hand, fighting for the Kingdom and for righteousness. But as in the battle with the Amalekites, battles are won by God’s people lifting up their arms to the Lord.”

“I have been more focused on what I wanted to say in my prayer than on Whom I am approaching in prayer. This often leads to prayer that amounts to a tallying-up of my wants, without proper regard for the One into Whose presence I have come.”

“Our prayers as a whole, and prayers for revival, should reflect our poverty and powerlessness before a God who is forgiving and gracious.”

“Pray for boldness in the church—boldness to proclaim God’s Word and to firmly stand on it. Pray for boldness to confront sin yet boldness accompanied with humility as the church is aware (painfully aware) of its own sinfulness. And pray for boldness to present Christ as the Way and the Truth.”

“Praying expectantly requires us to pray to God in line with His Word and His promises. Thus a decline in biblical literacy has resulted in our prayer life wavering as well.”

“Our pleas for revival will go unheeded until we stand up for God’s Word, forsake the idols of our age, shake off the trappings of our secular and materialistic age, and embrace God’s truth.”

“As we pray for revival—for changed lives, renewed churches, and a transformed culture—our tendency might be to enlist the charismatic, the eloquent, and those who project confidence and success, traits that so readily appeal to us. But God’s manner of bringing revival has often been through ordinary people who endure affliction, hardship, and suffering, much as he did with Paul and Timothy and the Apostles.”

I’ll be sharing more resourced and thoughts from this book soon, so stay tuned!

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

This is Part 2 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

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