Praying the Impossible
This Sunday as Justin started to reintroduce us to the heart behind the Impossible Prayer Requests, I felt my guard go up, for the fourth year in a row.
As I mentioned in my write up for the advent devotional this year, the first two years I was so paralyzed with fear over asking and facing disappointment, I hid behind reason and judgement and bypassed participating in the Impossible Prayer Requests altogether... I was skeptical of the purpose behind this process, so I tried to ignore it as some weird church practice I just wasn’t quite on board with.
Finally year three, it clicked. Year three of being asked to name and commit to praying for something I thought was impossible... finally, fear burst through my self-protection. Feeling the full vulnerability and foolishness of asking for something impossible, I began to recognize how my desire for control is what had driven my avoidance the past two years.
I like to pray for safe things. Things that seem likely. Things I think are inconsequential. I don’t find myself often praying unlikely, really important prayers. Those things, I would rather think logically about… Emily, there is no chance. Don’t get your hopes up. Prepare for the let-down. Accept reality. There is no use for optimism after you look at the facts.
On Sunday, Justin reminded us that abiding means asking, and that faith manifests itself in hope. Well, hope is scary.
My impossible prayer request of 2018 has not been answered with a yes. In 2018, I experienced new glimmers of hope as well as the same familiar disappointment. On Sunday, a new, seemingly even more radical prayer request popped into my head, and of course, I started to talk myself out of releasing that to God in 2019. The same fear from years past welled up. Just pray for the same impossible thing...no need to get crazy and ask for TWO impossible things.
Why does Justin want us to ask for these scary things? Why do we have this whole Advent devotional focused on Impossible Prayer? What’s the point of opening ourselves up in vulnerability, risking disappointment with something so precious?
Because faith sees best in the dark.
Asking God only for things that seem like they can and will fit into our vision of the goodlife keeps us safe and feels affordable. But where do we find the funds to gamble on asking for something impossible?
While we hope and wait in darkness, we remember the Light has come. Our deepest longing has already been met in our good Father, sacrificing his Son, to bring us into loving relationship with Him. In the darkness of every other unmet desire and every impossible request, we are driven to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ as a reminder that God’s plan is glory, and we are invited in. We have been given the funds to gamble, asking for what is unseen, believing that God will meet us in ways far beyond what we could ever hope or imagine...or what seems logical based on the present circumstances. As we step into the scary experience of waiting and hoping, we let the fear in, assured that God is good.