Does God Really Provide More Than I Can Ask Or Think?
Can God find my car keys? Can he really get my car fixed? Can God provide me a better job? Can he keep my baby from crying, my children from being disobedient, and my teenager from getting pregnant? Can God keep me sober? Can he free me from pornography? Can God stop the abuse, pull me out of my depression, heal my cancer? Can God stop the genocide? Can he prevent war? Can God bring the rain and produce a better harvest? Can God stop Ebola? Can he rescue the abducted? Can he bring justice to the oppressed, and break down the walls of hatred, prejudice, and violence? Can he do more abundantly than I am able to ask or think?
At times it is difficult for me to listen to "testimonies" of God's provision and deliverance. They are antidotal evidence of His working that people try to make normative. For every answered prayer there are scores whose prayers fall in the silence. For every claim of healing there are those who weep at a loved ones funeral. For every job provided another one is lost. For every praise of God's deliverance from spiritual oppression there is a believer who has died at the hands' of tyrants. Can he do more than I am able to ask or think?
At church this past week the pastor spoke on giving and gave an illustration of when in seminary he wasn't "tithing." He had a broken car that no one could fix. During a time of study and prayer he was convicted about his lack of giving, and felt cursed. Though they had little money they tithed, and low and behold the next mechanic was able to fix their car and his grandfather gave him an new car. All because he decided to tithe. If this is true then I am cursed above all else, but wait, I faithfully tithe. Can He do more than I am able to ask or think?
In the context of Ephesians chapter three Paul is encouraging believers in their possession of all the spiritual blessings of God. He is talking about the glorious riches of God in Christ. He is extolling God's work to break down the dividing wall between himself and sinners, and between Jews and Gentiles. Paul is explaining the mystery of God hidden to generations past and revealed to us in Christ. He is praying for our minds to be enlightened to the depth of God's unfathomable love so that we can love him and others. He is asking God that we will be strengthen in our inner being. It is within this context that he breaks out in praise to Him who is able to provide the things He has promised more abundantly then we can ask or think.
Does God work in our lives in miraculous ways? Yes, but what he does for one person isn't normative for the next. All good gifts come from God, but not all we ask for is given. What is beyond our ability to ask and think are not the temporal requests we lay before the throne. What he abundantly provides through the power working in us is a deeper understanding of His love, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, and filling of the Spirit. What is beyond our ability to ask and think is how to love our enemies, pray for the persecutor, love the unloveable, serve others, sacrifice for the kingdom, and faithfully keep our covenant between our spouses and God.
Should we stop praying for the temporal? No. We are called to trust God with everything and give him glory for however he responds. But if we see the prayers for the temporal from a fleshly perspective we will be disappointed when God doesn't come through. Only when we allow Him to provide abundantly more according to the power working in us to understand the heavenly perspective will we stand firm in both blessing and trial. I'm just saying...
Eph. 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,"