The Well Blog

The Big Ask

December 3, 2015
Jerrod Rumley
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As a youth pastor in Arkansas, I had a genius idea come to me out of nowhere. And by nowhere, I mean I shamelessly stole it from another youth pastor. I took my young life group guys through a physical experience, something to help them understand they weren’t strong enough to live this life of faith on their own.

I had the kids jump in my Explorer after school, and I took them to a nearby gym where they started to visibly panic. These were more of the Red Bull drinking, Xbox playing, soundboard operating types of kids. I’m sure they had never put a foot into a gym before that.

Taking them to the back where the free weights were, I found an empty bench press station, and I had them awkwardly put two plates on each side, raising the total to darn near 200 pounds. I asked them who wanted to attempt lifting the bar. No one budged. I tried to encourage them that they were stronger than they thought, but no one would take the bait. They knew they weren’t strong enough.

The next thing I offered was for two of the guys to get on each end with myself in the middle, and then encouraged someone to lie down and try it. One of them dropped down, and together we were able to lift that which would have been too hard to do individually.

Our Christian life can be like that experience. When we come to the realization how much more we can do together, community is not just intriguing but necessary. We are hardwired to connect with other people. It is in our very DNA.

Praying together in community isn’t easy at first. People aren’t sure what to say, so they don’t say anything. Or people can get hyper-spiritual with their words and have elongated segments when they pray to fill the awkward silence. People pray for trivial things, dramatic things, good things and eternal things. Praying is important because the Bible calls us to it. It was modeled in almost every book we have in our Bible. Jesus did it. The disciples did it. Paul was fervent in it.

Obviously prayer affects everything we do, from the small things to the big hairy things. Yet our tendency will always be to drift toward forgetting the big ask. The paradigm shift I think we need to understand for such a valuable discipline is this: We can’t lose sight of praying for things only God can do. We need to pray for things only He can accomplish and that coincide with His will. His strength is not our strength. His abilities far outperform our own.

Think of Jesus hanging on the cross praying, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Only God could do that. No other system of penance, religious duty or practical behavior change could produce forgiveness. That was something only God could accomplish.

I hope as you lie at the proverbial workout bench of your week, you will be encouraged to pray prayers according to His will that only He can lift up!

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