Ask God For Great Things

Then Elisha said, ‘Take the arrows!’ So he took them. Then Elisha said to the king off Israel, ‘Strike the ground!’ So he struck the ground three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck the ground five of six times. Then you would have struck down Aram until you had put an end to them, not now you will only strike down Aram three times.’
— 2 Kings 13:18-19

Back a while ago I started a blog of devotions. Then someone hacked into it and I shut it down. A friend shared this old post with me the other day. She thought I needed to be reminded of what I wrote. I did. But I thought I'd brush it up and repost it. Maybe someone reading today can also be encouraged... and challenged by this story.

Elisha was the prophet of Israel. He had become very sick and would die in a short time. Jehoash was the king of Israel. He was not a good man or a strong leader. As goes the leader so goes the nation. Consequently, Israel had been in a moral, social, and spiritual decline for years. But then Jehoash, hearing of Elisha's illness, came to visit the prophet. When he saw Elisha he fairly blurted it out: "Behold, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel!"  He was lamenting the fact that they were so few. Israel was down to 50 horsemen and 10 chariots. Imagine our military being depleted to one small battalion and half a fleet of ships. We would be at the mercy of our enemies! This was Israel's condition. 

The nature of mankind has not changed through thousands of years of history. It will always be the craving of governments and leaders to want more. There will always be aggressors in the world who do not understand the concept of peace. The only peace they understand is dominance--and they will not stop until they beat the competition into submission. With such a depleted military Israel was not able to defend herself from her enemies--and her enemies took advantage.  

Elisha told the king to take a bow and arrows. First he commanded him to shoot one of the arrows through the east window--perhaps in the direction of the temple. This he did. Elisha called this, "The LORD's arrow, yes, the arrow of victory over Aram" (v. 17). Maybe this arrow was to represent Israel's dependence on God for victory. Then Elisha ordered Jehoash to take the remaining arrows and strike them on the ground. He did this, striking the ground three times. The prophet was angry with the king and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times." But instead he was timid and afraid. He should have beat the floor until the arrows broke in his hand! 

When we pray, are we guilty of the same thing? Are we timid in our asking? Are we afraid to ask God for big things? Do we think that we are humble when we ask for small things? Are we not aware that God is great, and it honors Him when we ask Him for big things?

So what should we do? Be persistent in your prayers! Wear the floor out with your asking! Ask God for big things--and storm heaven until you get what you ask for. 

How To Improve Your Prayer Life

Many Christians struggle with maintaining an active prayer life. Nothing this good ever comes easy! It may seem at times that our prayers are accomplishing very little. But nothing could be further from the truth. Prayer is always powerful and effective, even when it appears not to be--so we must remain vigilant. 

By the way, what is the purpose of prayer? I've heard people say something like this: "If God knows what we need before we ask Him, then why bother to ask?" The reason is because the primary purpose of prayer is not to get things from God; it is to have fellowship with God. God wants to have communion with us. He wants us to talk to Him. Prayer is essential to a vital relationship with God. 

So, what can you do to improve your prayer life? Here are some practical suggestions:

Make A Commitment

We won't start without a commitment. So make a decision to pray... now. Bow your head right now and pray, "Lord, I'm making a commitment to You to pray. Please help me keep it." That prayer is definitely in His will. 

Make A List

My wife is the queen of all list-makers. She uses a list to keep her on track. A list is a great tool for prayer. It helps you keep track of things you are praying for. But I suggest you don't get to attached to your list. Change it up every week or so. Some things may need to stay on it indefinitely, but some things need to be changed up periodically as God answers or shows you a different course.

Have A Set Time and Place

Have a place that is your "prayer closet." Choose a place that is quiet and free of distractions. Sometimes his is more a matter of time than place. It may mean getting up a half hour earlier in the morning. Discipline yourself to do it. We make time to do the things that matter to us. One of the advantages of having a set place and time is establishing a routine. We are all creatures of habit. I have an office in my home. This may sound strange to you, but in the mornings it calls to me. It really is hard to ignore that voice that comes to me in the morning and says, "I'm waiting." 

Enlist An Accountability Partner

It helps to have someone who holds you accountable. I think we fear this for a couple of reasons. One, we are afraid of getting the wrong partner--the accountability partner from hades. But second, it is in our nature to resist being held accountable. Approach someone you trust and ask them to help you. Keep it basic. A simple text message may suffice: "Did you pray today?" 

Read the Bible

Reading the Bible is one of the greatest aids to an active prayer life. How? You can pray Scripture back to God. Psalms is a great example. You can't go wrong praying God's Word back to Him. 

Keep A Journal

I talked to a lady recently who said she keeps a record of her conversations with God. She has recored 33 specific answers to prayer in the last 9 months. I'd say that keeps her motivated! But it also helps to keep a record of your requests, and it also helps for personal accountability.

I've heard people use the excuse that they don't pray because they don't know how. They don't know how to talk!? Prayer is simply talking to God and telling Him what is on your heart. You can tell Him anything. He won't get offended. He already knows it anyway. So pour out your heart to Him. By far the greatest mistake we make when it comes to prayer is not praying at all! 

So take your Christian life up a notch right now. Bow your head and pray now. Make that commitment to begin praying, or to renew your prayer life, or to become more consistent at it. Do it now!

Do you have any suggestions? Let me know.