(7 minute read)
“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, NIV)
My first pastorate was a church in rural Alabama that was mostly comprised of farmers, small business owners, and shift workers. It was a wonderful experience. God did some amazing things during those years. The church couldn’t pay me much, but they were generous in love and service.
During those years my father became critically ill. We began to travel back and forth to Birmingham where Dad was either hospitalized or in physical therapy. Money was tight with extra gas and expenses. I prayed that God would supply what we needed, but I didn’t know how it would come.
The Sunday after my father’s diagnosis, a church member came up to me and expressed his compassion for what my dad was going through. As he shook my hand, he left a $20 bill. It was enough to get me to Birmingham and back the next day.
The following week, another person did the same thing — this time with a $50 bill. For the next eighteen months, even though I didn’t get a salary increase, all that we needed was supplied in this unlikely way.
Time and time again, God has shown me that God not only provides what I need. God provides exceedingly, abundantly more than is needed. And God often does that in surprising ways.
George Müller lived on the edge of faith as related to his finances. He dreamed a big dream of opening orphanages for thousands of children. Müller trusted in God alone to provide. He never asked anyone for donations but instead prayed, waiting on the Lord, and watching how God provided.
One day the needs of the orphanage were exceedingly great. Having nothing for the day’s expenses, Müller watched the mail for a donation that could provide bread and milk for the orphans.
On March 9, 1842, Müller wrote these words in his diary:
“Since our need was so great, and my soul was, through grace, truly waiting on the Lord, I watched for supplies during the course of the morning. The mail, however, had been delivered, and no provisions had come. This did not in the least discourage me. I said to myself, ‘The Lord can send means without a postman. Even now, although the mail has come, through this very delivery of letters, God may have sent the answer, although the money is not yet in my hands.’”
When the postman didn’t deliver any funds, Müller continued to pray. it wasn’t long before one of his workers came into his study. Ten pounds had been sent to another one of the properties.
It was just enough for the day’s expenses. God provided the resources in a surprising way. I love how Mueller wrote that even though the funds didn’t come through the mail, “This did not in the least discourage me.” What faith! Mueller believed that God was able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” The funds had been provided. They just hadn’t been placed in Mueller’s hands yet.
Coincidence? Luck? If this was a one-time event there might be reason to doubt. But Müller had similar experiences over and over and over again.
The simplest explanation is the most likely one. God hears our prayers, delights to help us, and sends aid when we need it the most.
Let me challenge you with two questions.
First, what do you need today?
Maybe you need the help of God to bring home a prodigal son or daughter. Maybe you need financial help. Maybe you need help in keeping your business afloat. Maybe you need people to help you not be so lonely.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Believe that God is able to do “immeasurably more” than what you ask or imagine.
Name your biggest need. Believe God hears your prayer and that God is ready and willing to help.
Whatever our hopes and dreams are, God is always able to do more. Think of what God can do through our church in our community. Now double that, triple that — multiply it by one million. That’s the way God thinks.
Second, from where are you expecting help?
When you commit your way to the Lord, God can bring help from places you have never considered.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from?” asks the writer of Psalm 121. Help doesn’t come from the hills. Real help isn't found in the material world. “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Help is found not in the mountain, but in the maker of the mountain. Everything is at the disposal of God.
Psalm 50:10 says that the Lord owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.” We may be finite and limited, but God has abundant, endless resources. God has a thousand delivery systems to get those resources to us. God can use the postal service, UPS, or FedEx. God can use Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, or a zillion other means. God can use family, friends, strangers, and even enemies.
“Be assured,” said George Müller, “if you walk with Him, and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.”
Prayer Principle #4: Watch for God to answer prayer in unexpected ways.