Paul informs his readers that they can pray to the Almighty. This is a reminder that the majestic God is approachable – what astonishing grace! But then we recall that sinners can approach him, which is even more amazing. And Paul says that God will do immeasurably more than they can ask or think, which tells us that God has abundant grace.
The answers to prayer are not limited to what we can ask or think. In fact, Paul says that it is impossible to ask God for too much. We may ask him for wrong things and we may ask for the wrong reasons, but when the object we seek is right and when our motives are right, then we cannot ask too much. He has encouraged us by saying, ‘Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it’ (Ps. 81:10). This is a rebuke of our often-weak faith.
God does more for an individual Christian than all he asks for in his whole Christian life. Try and calculate how many prayers a person offers in his life, whether in family worship, public worship, personal devotions and sporadically throughout the day. Who can count them? But God does for him immeasurably more.
God does more for a local congregation than it can ask. Some congregations have been around for centuries and God has heard all the prayers offered by its members. The number of prayers of one person is almost innumerable, so what can one say about a congregation’s prayers? Only that God can do immeasurably more.
Then if we think of all the prayers that have been offered by all the congregations that are on earth today or that have ever been, our mind cannot grasp the range of requests that have been offered. But God can do immeasurably more.
Paul wanted to encourage his readers to have confidence in prayer and he does this by pointing them to God’s power. So what should we bring to mind when we pray?
When we pray, we are to remember the power of God that we have already experienced individually or corporately. We are to remind ourselves that the power of God is continually working within us. The Holy Spirit is the one who indwells us. John tells us that greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
When we pray, we are to remind ourselves that God will not withdraw himself from this relationship he has with his people. He is their Father for ever, and because he is he will give to them exceeding abundantly above all that they can ask or think.
Therefore, whether it is our concerns about providence or about preaching the gospel or a thousand other things, remember the great power of the almighty God. He longs for us to ask him to stretch forth his strong arm on our behalf.