"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)
My 4-year-old twins made it abundantly clear they were not interested in sitting on Santa's lap - which may or may not have been related to the previous year not going so well.
Imagine my surprise when Ellie caught a glimpse of the new Santa and wanted a picture with him. Her hair wasn't brushed, and she had paint on her leggings, but I figured I'd go for it before she changed her mind. Let's just say our style choices differed from the rest of the line, and I was beginning to feel insecure. Just then, Ellie loudly announced that she was going to ask Santa to give all her toys to poor kids. I was elated. Take that, giant-bow kids. Mine is Kingdom-focused.
She hesitated when it was her turn, but her resolve quickly kicked in, and she boldly approached the throne.
This was going to be a glorious moment. Not just for her, but for me. I would be crowned Mother of the Year, despite the fact she looked unkempt.
"Santa ... I would really love ..." she looked at me, and I motioned her on. She paused. And then the floodgates opened.
"... the Barbie with the sparkly fish tail and the dress at the store and the pretend kitchen with the oven and the Rapunzel movie and ..."
She didn't take a breath for a solid minute, and I'm pretty sure I blacked out. I did the walk of shame away from the smug moms. I did not make eye contact with anyone. Or thank the elf. Or purchase the photo.
It was a dark day, folks.
But here's the point: When she sat on Santa's lap, she thought he had the power to give her the true desires of her heart.
The truth is that we ask in proportion to what we believe. Similarly, in our prayer lives ... if we don't believe God is able, we won't pray as if He is.
When Jesus approaches a man who's been crippled for 38 years, Jesus asks if he wants to be healed. (John 5:6) Given that the man had been sitting with other invalids for years, waiting for water from a healing pool to be stirred to get healed, we can assume the answer is yes. But that's not what he says; in fact, he doesn't even answer the question.
He tells Jesus he never gets a chance to go in because everyone goes before him, and no one helps him. He's so caught up thinking about the reasons he hasn't been healed that he doesn't hear what Christ is asking.
When we allow our past experiences to dictate our future expectations, we spend our time sitting still by healing waters instead of trusting the voice of our Healer. We forget it's not the natural that heals us; it's the supernatural.
Consider the difference between the crippled man and Bartimaeus, who meets Jesus as He travels through town. He calls out to Jesus, begging for mercy while those around rebuke him and urge him to stop. He won't - not until Jesus comes and asks what he wants.
Bartimaeus doesn't hesitate: He asks for his sight back and is instantly healed. Jesus tells him it's his faith that made it so.
Obviously Bartimaeus hasn't been successful in receiving healing for his sight, but it doesn't stop him from asking the One he believes is able. I wonder if I can say the same of my own prayers.
I think about Ellie sitting on Santa's lap, looking into his eyes and believing this man had the power to give her what she wanted most; it changed the way she approached him.
Just like we read in today's key verse: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).
Ellie didn't get everything she listed that day with Santa, and we likely won't either. But in that moment, she believed he was able, and that's the magnificent place where hope starts to grow wild.
Lord, give us the courage to pray with expectancy and hope, to put aside anything in our past that makes us feel like it's impossible. Give us the confidence that allows us to look past this world and steady ourselves in You instead. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 20:31, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (NIV)
What if you could study the whole Bible in 6 weeks? Our next Online Bible Study, Seamless by Angie Smith, will help us do just that! Grow more in your understanding of Scripture as we learn how the entire Bible fits together into one seamless story. Learn more about our summer study here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How often do you ask God questions based on your opinion of what's possible? Do you ever find yourself praying for lesser things ... because you struggle to believe He is able to accomplish the greater ones? If so, prayerfully consider why that's the case. Do you feel unworthy? Do you doubt Him? Are you trying to avoid disappointment?
Let us know how you might pray differently if you truly believed God would answer.
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