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Triple-Decker Answered Prayer

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Our upcoming ReNew Conference theme, “Immeasurably More,” comes from Ephesians 3:20. It’s one of the greatest glimpses of God’s heart and His desire to amaze and astound us with His goodness.

“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

There are three layers in this description of His character, three levels of answered prayer, each one more generous and extravagant than the last. Conceptually, the verse begins with what “we ask,” (the sentence is not written out exactly in this order). This is our basic prayer request. Here’s how God multiplies and magnifies the “raw material” of our simple ask:

  1. He does more than we ask
  2. He does more than we can even imagine
  3. He does immeasurably more than both of those!

It’s nice when requests are answered. It’s even better when we receive something that goes above and beyond our initial request, like in the case of excellent customer service: a complimentary next meal when our order is botched, a class upgrade on an airline; or hearing this at the car rental desk: “Sorry, sir, we don’t have the compact car you originally booked, but we have a full-size SUV in the lot that we can offer you for the same price. Will that be ok?”

One of the most powerful ways that Ephesians 3:20 came true in my life was on a Men’s outreach trip to Vietnam a few years ago. Our team goes to help a middle school in one of the poorest provinces, an area that is hard ground for the gospel and a place with a very low number of believers because of the restrictive environment. We have to be careful in what we do and say for the safety of our host organization and even for the students and staff themselves. For this trip, I simply prayed that we would have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone – just one would be fine. Then God took this basic prayer and did His thing.

We did have a chance to share the gospel, not just with any person at the school, with the Headmistress! This was more than what my faith allowed me to pray for. A student, yes; a teacher, maybe, but the Headmistress?

The Headmistress asked about the “wordless bracelet” many of us wore, a bracelet with coloured beads that represent the gospel, black for our sin, red for the blood of Christ, white for forgiveness etc. Just having the chance to share didn’t necessarily mean that she would be interested in what we had to say. But she listened intently. Her body language and eye contact showed that she was thoroughly engaged and her questions told us that she was processing and analyzing what she was hearing. Having such a spellbound audience in the Headmistress was more than I would have ever imagined.

We gave her the bracelet to keep, and when other teachers saw this they quickly gathered around and asked the Headmistress about it. We could see her point to each bead and to recount what we had just shared with her. With my small faith, I expected her to parrot what we had said, to repeat word for word, line after line by rote. Being able to understand Vietnamese, I could hear it was more than that, immeasurably more: with a crowd of teachers around her, she retold the gospel story in her own words, in her own way using her own examples. This was unimaginably more than any of us could have asked, or even had the ability to do ourselves.

Next time you have a prayer request, ask that God would grant it in a Ephesians 3:20 way, not just to bless you, but so that He would be glorified.

Do you have an experience to share about when you’ve received immeasurably more than what you asked for?

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