Lesson 7: How Much Can You Imagine?

You're reading EPHESIANS: LESSONS IN GRACE, by Eric Elder, featuring twenty inspiring devotionals based on one of the most grace-filled books in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading EPHESIANS: LESSONS IN GRACE, by Eric Elder, featuring twenty inspiring devotionals based on one of the most grace-filled books in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:20-21

Have you ever found yourself to be a little disappointed with God, wondering why He hasn’t answered your prayers in the way you thought He might?

You may want to pray in faith, but you also want to pray realistically.  So how can you pray in a way that expresses your faith and trust in God, without being disappointed if you don’t see the answers in the way that you expected?

For me, I’ve found that even if I overreach in my prayers, asking and expecting more from God in the short run than He actually provides, I know that in the long run He can still answer my prayers in a way that goes beyond anything I could have asked or imagined.

Back when I used to work as a computer analyst for a large company, I heard a professional technology forecaster say that the trouble with technology forecasting is that people often vastly overestimate the short-term impact of new technologies, but vastly underestimate their long-term impact.

My own experience with the Internet was a prime example.  When I saw a demonstration of the very first web browser, Mosaic, the presenter pulled up a page on his computer with a picture of three doors on it.  As he clicked on each door, it pulled up  a web page from a computer in Germany, then a page from a computer in another country, and finally a page from a computer in a third country.  Everyone in the room was amazed.  I began to imagine all kinds of possibilities of what could be done with such an easy-to-use worldwide network.

Yet with all the potential I could see or imagine for the Internet on that day, it paled in comparison to what the Internet has become today.  It actually took several years for my initially high, short-term expectations of the Internet to finally become a reality within our company.  But I could never have imagined the long-term impact the Internet would have on my own life in the future, forming the foundation for the rest of my life’s work and ministry.

I think the same applies to our expectations of God.  There are times when we tend to overestimate how God will answer our prayers in the short-term.  But we vastly underestimate how God will answer our prayers in the long-term.  While we may be disappointed in the short-term answers to our prayers, the long-term answers often go way beyond all we could ask or imagine.

In reading through one of my prayer journals from a few years ago, I ran across some disappointing days when I was trying to figure out how to fund the renovations at our Clover Ranch retreat house.  When a job opportunity came up, I decided to apply, take on a second job, and put all the money I made at that job into the repairs on the house.  When that job fell through even before I got started, I was disappointed.

But within a few months, God brought someone who not only donated enough to put a new roof on the house, but to completely redo the bathroom, the kitchen, and replace all the windows!  I wrote in my journal that it was “beyond what I could imagine.”  My disappointment with God in the short run was replaced by amazement with God in the long run.

The Apostle Paul said it like this:

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). 

The next time you set out to ask God for something, ask boldly.  But remember what God told the prophet Isaiah:

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).  

By doing so, you can pray in faith and pray realistically, trusting God to answer in His way and His timing―and believing that He can do “immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine.”

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Word, which says even more than I would expect it to say.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy that allows us to come before You with our requests.  And Lord, increase my faith so that I can come to you with boldness and confidence, trusting that You can indeed do more than all I could ask or imagine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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