Posted by: mikenicholsblog | October 10, 2013

risk in prayer?

The year was 2000. Our daughter was heading off to college, and her parents were depressed by the thought of heading into unknown territory.  She had settled on the University of Toledo a little late, and was told that she would not be able to get into Park dormitory.  Those were not the words her protective father wanted to hear, and I set out to do something about it. Oh, not in the normal obsessive parent way.  No, I told our daughter that we would pray her into that dorm.  Sometimes I look back at brash statements and wonder if I was filled with faith or foolishness.  But in this particular scenario, I was determined to see God work, and use it as an example in our family of answered prayer.  My boldness was setting me up if I was wrong; but what a coincidence, she started the year in Park dormitory.  I wish it could be said of me that all my prayer requests are laced with that much boldness and faith.  In an obscure passage of Scripture that I read recently, I came upon great boldness in prayer.  You’ll find it in the book of Ezra.

Have you ever exhibited such confidence in God that your trust carried some risk; such as God not coming through for you?  At that moment you trusted Him for results that only He could accomplish; but what if He didn’t?  Would you be embarrassed?  Or worse yet, would onlookers doubt the sufficiency of your Father?   Make no mistake; God may not always come through in the manner that we would expect, but He will always do what is best for His children.  Now consider with me the human risk associated with Ezra’s trust in Ezra 8:21-23…

And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled.  For I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to accompany us and protect us from enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king, “Our God’s hand of protection is on all who worship him, but his fierce anger rages against those who abandon him.”  So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer.

Ezra was leading a second group of exiles back to Jerusalem.  He had let the king know that God’s hand of protection was on all who worship Him. But this was a dangerous journey. From my study, I believe Ezra was leading a large group of people.  He was ashamed to ask for protection — and there, humanly speaking, was the risk. But His faith was born in truth; God is a protector of those who worship Him. When they fasted and prayed, God heard their prayer. What a coincidence!

The depth of prayer, God’s sovereignty, and how He chooses to honor faith is beyond my (and your) comprehension.  However, there is a truth that I have learned from my early years.  God answers prayer, and you and I can depend on Him every day…for everything.  I read stories of George Mueller building a great orphanage trusting God to provide … entirely.  Others throughout history have lived with great faith, and saw great answers to prayer.  Interestingly, the text of John Robinson’s last sermon at Leiden, Netherlands, before the Pilgrims set sail for the New World in 1620 was from Ezra 8:21.

Was I silly to tell my daughter she would get into a particular dormitory? Maybe!  But I was convinced then, and I am now, that God can do what I can’t.  And when He does; He gets the glory.  Ezra was concerned about God’s reputation — and God came through!  My concern is that 21st century Christ-followers risk so little that we never put God’s reputation to the test.

Is there anything confronting you right now worthy of fasting and earnest prayer?


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