Sound impossible? It is for us but not for God because Luke 1:37 tells us, “Nothing is impossible with God.” The context is important: An angel has just announced to Mary, a virgin, that she will have a son; furthermore, her older relative Elizabeth, who was considered barren, is in her sixth month of pregnancy. Then the angel pronounces Nothing is impossible with God.
Are we there yet, where we can believe this? Some people won’t even consider it, but others want to believe, while a few actually are confident that if God says something, then it will happen, no matter how distant it may seem. Do you want that to be you? To be able to believe whatever the Bible says, whatever you know for sure that God has whispered to your spirit?
How do we get from simply praying to being sure our prayer will be answered? First of all, we must ask if it is a godly prayer. James 4:2-3 NLT[i] tells us, Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
If we don’t know how to pray about a situation, we can simply ask! If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:5-7).
Furthermore, Romans 8:26-27 assures us: And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
However, we can also ask wrongly if we don’t have faith that God will answer our request, as James 1:6 (above) mentions. Why is faith so important? Hebrews 11:6 states, And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him (emphasis mine). Furthermore, verse 1 explains exactly what faith is: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
How can we be sure of what we can’t even see? Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? If so, then you know that something changed in you when you accepted Him as your Savior. But, can you see physically any change? Did your hair change color? Did you get taller or shorter? No, a physical change didn’t happen but a spiritual change certainly did. If you were a teen or adult when you became a Christian, you probably noticed that some attitudes changed; maybe even if you were a child. So you know something is different and you have an assurance that you will go to heaven when you die, even if your eyes see nothing different.
The same thing is true for anything else we believe God to do. We will know deep inside that He not only is able to do the thing but that He will. That is faith. We are given the example of Abraham in Romans 4:17: That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing (emphasis mine). The Message Bible[ii] puts that last phrase as, With a word [God] makes something out of nothing (emphasis mine).
Our goal and desire is for God to be able to use our prayers for that purpose. Therefore, if we are praying for someone or a particular circumstance, then we must pray the Word of God as if that person or that situation already exists! Sound hard? No, not hard, but it does take practice, persistence and watching our faith grow until it is strong enough to really believe in the mightiness and wonder of the God we confess. Our Father doesn’t give us examples that are impossible to follow, but they will take our determination and perseverance until our faith is as strong as theirs was. We start with our faith where it is today and work from there. Do we want to see God make something from nothing, using our prayers? Then let’s get started!
[i] All Scriptures used, unless otherwise mentioned, are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
[ii] THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.