Why not pray six impossible things before breakfast? Jesus says “ with God all things are possible” (Mat 19:26) and we are commanded by him to ask in his name with the expectation of receiving: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14)
Jesus did loads of seemingly impossible things. He healed seriously ill people with a word or a touch. He commanded a storm to stop, knew peoples thoughts and rose bodily from the dead. When Peter was amazed that a fig tree withering when Jesus cursed it, he was told about how he could move mountains! Then Jesus says:
whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (ESV) (Mark 11:24)
Joshua told the sun to stop and God stopped it (Joshua 10:12-13). Now I can think of all kinds of reasons why that could not happen. I’m pretty sure the universe should fall apart or at the very least something cataclysmic should happen to the surface of the earth. But neither happened as God held the sun stationary in the sky for a whole day. I do not know how that happened. But it did happen. It seems impossible but for God it is not impossible. Therefore, the fact that something seems impossible, or that I do not see any way in which God could do it, is no reason not to ask him for it.
James says we don’t have because we don’t ask (James 4:2-3 ) which provokes me to do a lot of asking. However, there are some things that need to be taken into account. James talks about our motives being right, ie not selfish (James 4:2-3). Jesus says our prayers will be answered if we abide in him (John 15:7, 16). Both Jesus and James say that we need to ask with faith, believing we will get what we ask for (James 1:5-8, Mat 17:20, Mark 11:24). However, we have misunderstood all these things if we think they limit our asking. Our eyes should not be focused on our motives or how much we are abiding or the level of our faith but on God who can do the impossible.
A few days ago I suddenly had the phrase “6 impossible things before breakfast” drop into my head. It’s from Alice in Wonderland when the White Queen is shocked that Alice can’t believe impossible things:
“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Alice in Wonderland.
If I am struggling to believe impossible things then I thought at least I can ask for them. If I don’t ask, then I won’t get but if I ask then I have a reason for expecting them to happen because I have asked God for whom nothing is impossible. Thinking about it now it seems obvious that faith can come in the act of asking as well as before the asking. After all, James and Jesus say we should ask and then expect rather than expect and then ask. Lack of faith can stop us asking but since asking can increase our faith why not ask?
So that is what I have been doing. I have been asking God for six impossible things before I eat the first meal of the day. I have forgotten a few times but I am getting more into the habit. It’s very liberating. Rather than think “what have I got faith for asking” I think “what is impossible for man?”.
I should mention a couple of other things here though. We ask in Jesus name which means “with his authority and in line with who he is and what he wants to do” and faith comes from God’s word which tells us about those things. Jesus also only did what he saw the Father doing and we are to keep in step with the Spirit in the same way. How do these things effect what we pray for? Do they put limits on them?
Having climbed over the fence of impossibility (or perceived difficulty), are we blocked in our asking by another one wall of God’s secret will. Does not knowing exactly what God has decided to do limit our asking? Would Jesus want to do X in situation Y? Can I see the Father doing Z? Is the Spirit leading me to pray and do such and such a thing? Is there a scripture that gives me a cast iron guarantee of answered prayer in a particular situation? Surely the certainty with which we can answer these questions has some effect on what we ask for and what we expect to happen. Here is how I scale these issues:
First, Jesus calls us friends because he lets us into his plans. We know roughly what it looks like for his kingdom to be extended so we can get on with it. We can apply general truths to specific situations. We can infer from the fact that Jesus healed people that he still wants to heal people and ask him to heal a particular person. That would seem to be a much more fruitful approach than waiting for him to give you the green light for asking something through an audible voice or vision etc. Jesus taught his disciples to pray “your kingdom Come” which is about as general a prayer as you could hope to pray. Now, I know each line in the Lord’s prayer is probably a summary but it seems to me we are left to fill in the details and pray for anything that looks like the extension of God’s kingdom. If what you ask for sits well in a that category then what’s the harm in asking?
Second, we should maximise the promises in the bible rather than looking for the absolute minimum God could possibly have meant by a particular verse or passage of scripture. God is more generous, more gracious, more loving and more powerful than I could ever hope to know. If he says “ask and it will be given to you” then why not take that at face value and ask? I do not want to be like the bad steward who said “Master, I knew you to be a hard man” (Mat 25:24). Who wants to underestimate the goodness and kindness of God? I bet its quite hard to overestimate his grace.
Thirdly, what do I have to lose by asking? Will God dash my hopes? Will he laugh at my stupidity or frown at my audacity? Is he waiting for me to pray just the right thing before he does anything? No prayer, based on a simple trust in the goodness of God, is ever ignored. My loving heavenly Father delights to hear my voice and responds to faith however small or misinformed. No one who trusts in the Lord is ever put to shame. That does not mean I will always get what I ask for. If I ask for something that falls outside of God’s good and perfect plans then he can always redirect me. Maybe by asking I’ll even learn a thing or two about God’s will.
Nothing is “too hard”for God (Jer 32:17, 27). Not only does faith raise as we read God’s word and trust it to mean as much as it could possibly mean, but it rises as we ask God to do the impossible. William Wilberforce, the man who lead the successful campaign against slavery in the 1800’s said
“We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible… So we will do them anyway.”
Jesus said we need to be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven, so if you want to feel young again why not jettison cynicism and join me in asking for six impossible things before breakfast?
PS. Here are some great scriptures to give you confidence for the big asks:
Nothing will be impossible with God. (ESV) Luke 1:37
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. (ESV) Mat 17:20
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (ESV) Mat 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (ESV) Mark 10:27
What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (ESV) Luke 18:27
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (ESV) John 14:14
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (ESV) Phil 4:13
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (ESV) John 15:7
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (ESV) John 15:16
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (ESV) James 4:2-3
At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. (ESV) Joshua 10:12-13
‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (ESV) Jer 32:17
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? (ESV) Jer 32:27