Advent Reflection: Praying for the Impossible

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Placeholder4 tractor Bill Vriesema

O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces.

Psalms 122:7

Often, when I pray for God to do something, I am fairly confident that what I ask will happen. For example, when I’m helping to lead a retreat at Laity Lodge, I ask the Lord to bless those who have gathered with his grace and make his presence known to them. As I pray, I am almost certain that God will answer this prayer in the affirmative. Why? Because for over fifty years, he has done this very thing at Laity Lodge in thousands of lives. So I pray with boldness based on experience as much as faith.

Sometimes, however, I pray for things that seem impossible. Indeed, they are impossible without God’s miraculous help. I’m thinking of times I have prayed for healing of people with advanced cancer, or for God to restore a marriage that has been shattered by years of anger and infidelity. I’m also thinking of prayers I offer for the world in its overwhelming need. In particular, I’m thinking of prayers I offer for Jerusalem.

There may not be any place in the world more rife with conflict than Jerusalem. One summer, I had the privilege of spending a day there, walking through the Old City. I sensed tension in the air that was so heavy it seemed to press down on my soul. Walking through the Muslim Quarter, I noticed as people eyed me suspiciously. Throughout the city, there were soldiers armed with automatic weapons. My single day in Jerusalem, though filled with profound moments, also underscored the deep-seated conflicts there, which I read about almost daily in the newspaper.

Yet, Scripture calls me to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, even as I pray for God’s peace to envelop the whole earth. This is an impossible prayer, from a human perspective. But I pray in obedience. I pray because I trust God. I pray because the God who did the impossible by saving the world through Jesus can do the impossible again. Indeed, one day his peace will cover the earth, including Jerusalem.

Are you praying for the impossible? Are there challenges in your life that seem beyond help? Let me encourage you to pray, not because you can figure out how your problem will be fixed, but because our God is gracious, merciful, and all-powerful. When we pray for the impossible, we put ourselves into the safe, strong hands of God.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you praying for the impossible? What keeps you going? What discourages you? Have you ever seen God answer a prayer that seemed impossible?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, today I am reminded that I am to pray even for that which seems impossible. I ask for such things, not because they seem likely, but because of who you are. I pray because you are good and wise and merciful and powerful. You can do the impossible, or that which seems impossible to me, at any rate. Nothing is impossible for you.

Help me, Lord, to trust you with everything in life. Give me courage to ask for big things, impossible things. May I pray, not on the basis of what is likely, but on the basis of your character. Amen.

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