During his earthly ministry, Jesus did a number of miracles–amazing feats that were inexplicable except if you consider that Jesus was and is part of the Triune God. Toward the end of his life, he promised his disciples that the Father would send the Holy Spirit in his place.
What does that mean for us?
Well, while it doesn’t mean that we have as much of God’s power as Jesus, it does mean that we have some access to God’s power–undoubtedly more than we realize. In thinking about writing this post over the course of this past week, a quote by Christian author Annie Dillard popped into my mind. In his sermon at church this morning, Pastor Brady Boyd referred to the same quote, so I figured that must have been a sign that I should go ahead and mention it:
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return. ”Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters
So when we pray, we should pray expectantly, as though we are calling God’s power to bear on the problem at hand–because that’s exactly what we’re doing!
You may ask why, then, aren’t all of our prayers answered in the way we pray them at the time we pray them. That’s a great question, and I don’t have a great answer. Or any answer. And I can’t find a good answer in the Bible. It would be a good thing to ask God when you meet Him face-to-face.
But in the meantime, though, I will say that the Bible has many encouragements for us to continue to pray expectantly. One such example comes in an odd story about the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, as told in 1 Kings 18. He had previously caused a drought for a long time via his prayer to that effect. When it came time to end the drought, Elijah pretty much guaranteed to King Ahab that it was going to rain before there was even a cloud in the sky. After he made that guarantee, he climbed a mountain to pray for rain. After praying, he sent a servant to check to see if there was any sign of rain. When there wasn’t, he repeated the cycle, which he had to do several times. It wasn’t until the seventh time that there was finally a raincloud forming.
Now how’s that for praying expectantly? It didn’t deter him that he hadn’t gotten the result he expected six times. He kept praying, waiting for God to respond.
And He did.
This is the power of God that’s available to all of us via the Holy Spirit. So we should put on our crash helmets and pray!