"When Peter came to himself he said, 'Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting" (Acts 12:11).
There are many encouragements in Scripture to pray outlandish prayers, and here is the latest one I've found---because God delights in doing what unbelievers are not expecting.
One time the Syrian king's advisors told him that Israel had won the battle because their God was God of the hills but not God of the plains, and that the Israelites couldn't win a war against them on the plains (1 Kings 20:23).
Them was fightin' words to God. He responded:
"Because the Syrians have said, 'The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,' therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD'" (1 Kings 20:28).
I do not often hear it said (because it almost sounds heretical), but God wants to glorify you:
"To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him . . ." (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
All that power that Jesus won by his obedience is now exercised "toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:19).
God does good things for us, and rescues us from bad things because He gets glory from doing it:
"Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me" (Psalm 50:15).
Do you have a situation that people don't expect anything good to come out of? A marriage that people don't think can work? A child that people say is impossible? A problem that makes people write you off? Cheer up. That's when it gets interesting for God. He is in the business of defying popular expectation, the better to glorify Himself in you.
A counselor (I'm sorry to say that it was even a Christian counselor) once said that a woman who is a victim of marital infidelity will suffer depression as a result of it for a period of time that is approximately equal to the duration of the adultery. It was proved by statistics. A woman I know decided to go with the statistics rather than the Word of God, and she rose no higher than the counselor's expectations.
At about the same time, there was another woman whose husband died. Some of her well-meaning friends told her to expect a series of fixed psychological stages of grief, including anger at God. This woman instead chose to pick up the Bible and simply believe God's promises. God honored her faith and defied expectations.
Sometimes we Christians don's expect enough from God. Let us pray bold prayers, outlandish prayers, because God wants to do exceedingly abundantly more than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)---and certainly more than unbelievers are expecting.
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