When it comes to prayer, do we ask for too little for the wrong reasons? Do we petition God for small things for ourselves when we should ask for God-sized things for His glory?
The apostle Paul was not afraid to ask God for extravagant blessings on behalf of others. In his letter to the Ephesians, he writes of his praying for the Ephesian believers to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19).
Peter O’Brien writes of this passage: “Has the apostle ‘gone over the top?'” Has he asked for too much? “No,” writes O’Brien, “for it is impossible to ask for too much since the Father’s giving exceeds their capacity for asking or even imagining” (see Eph. 3:20-21).
Paul wanted the Ephesian believers to experience God in his fullness for by doing so, he knew that God would be glorified as they delighted in knowing the depth of who He was. In addition, for God to answer such a prayer, it would show His goodness and mercy.
The key to Paul’s petitions to God were based upon God being known and glorified, not Paul’s personal will or comfort. In the New Testament letter written by James, we see the danger of asking God for things that are for our own selfish desires. James writes: You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:3).
God not answering our selfish prayers is not a bad thing however. What would it be like if parents gave in to all the selfish requests of their children? We do not always know what is best for us. We should be thankful that God doesn’t always give us what we think we need or want.
We must understand, however, that God desires to give us good things and those good things revolve around His glory and His making Himself known in your life.
We must also realize that God is not stingy in giving. The reason why we sometimes think He is is because we ask for things for our own glory and passions which could lead to our downfall.
One story that I particularly like in showing that we might be insulting God with our small ambitions is one that is told and written by Tim Keller. It is a story (most likely apocryphal) about Alexander the Great, who had a general whose daughter was getting married.
Alexander valued this solder greatly and offered to pay for the wedding. When the general gave Alexander’s steward the bill, it was absolutely enormous. The steward came to Alexander and named the sum.
To his surprise Alexander smiled and said, “Pay it! Don’t you see–by asking me for such an enormous sum he does me great honor. He shows that he believes I am both rich and generous.”
Do we believe that God is rich and generous? Do we believe He wants to show Himself to those around us? Do we believe that He can send revival to your church and community? Let’s pray!