Are you ever surprised at what God does? Like you, I pray. I pray a lot. And those prayers are mostly centered on me asking God to do something. I pray for him to show up, to reveal himself, to provide wisdom and discernment or just to provide “things”. And since I’ve been at Sweet Sleep, I’ve seen those prayers multiply as we partner with others to provide a bed for every head, a task which seems quite often insurmountable. But I pray anyway. And what I’ve found is that a majority of the time, God shows up and answers those prayers.
And I’m shocked.
I rarely pause to reflect on why I’m surprised. I just am. And then I thank God for answering that prayer and send up another one. And then I’m shocked when he answers the next one. With my words I profess to have faith that God answers all prayers. But more often than not, I am surprised when he does.
I was reading recently in Mark about Jesus and his time with the disciples in the weeks leading up to his crucifixion. In Mark 11:12, we find Jesus and the disciples leaving Bethany. Jesus was hungry. He saw a fig tree in the distance and went to find out if it had any fruit. It did not as it was not the season for figs. He then said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
The next morning, the disciples were leaving and as they went along, they saw the same fig tree withered from the roots. Peter then said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
Did you see that? Exclamation points. I don’t know about you, but I only use exclamation points when I’m REALLY excited or surprised. Peter, a disciple who had seen Jesus perform countless miracles, was surprised that what Jesus had commanded came true.
Peter was shocked.
As I read this, I was surprised at Peter’s reaction. My response was, Peter, how can you of all people be surprised when Jesus does what he said he was going to do. Did you not trust him or believe that what he commanded would happen? Then I realized that all too often, I’m just like Peter.
Jesus responded to Peter’s surprised reaction in verse 22, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, go throw yourself in to the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Wow. I’m often guilty of praying prayers to God then having an attitude of not really believing if what I pray matters to God or will be answered. But here in Mark, Jesus commands that we believe in the power of His word and might. And when he does answer those prayers, we shouldn’t be surprised or shocked at the outcome, for he has already told us that he can move mountains, wither fig trees, heal the sick and on and on.
So pray big prayers or as Jen says quite often, dangerous prayers.
Just don’t be surprised when God answers them.