In the very early years of my marriage I came across a quote that I have reflected upon often over the years. Not many quotes have that kind of impact on a person’s life, hey? What better book for a new wife to read than “The Power of a Praying Wife”? Especially when my husband was not a believer! I jotted this quote down in my prayer journal, personalizing it. I am so glad I kept this journal over the years! It has sustained me in where to hold my expectations…giving me a better understanding of what to expect when expecting from God.
This is what it said:
“My expectation of what I think Marcus should be or do doesn’t coincide with the reality of who he is. Accept Marcus for who he is and pray for him to grow. My greatest expectations must be from God, not Marcus.” (Emphasis mine).
I think I could really plug anyone’s name into that quote instead of ‘Marcus’. A friend, a parent, boyfriend…even myself. It can be anyone from whom I’ve had huge expectations of. Am I looking to someone else to fulfill me? Give me my needs? To fix me and my problems? And when they don’t do these things for me, I am left disappointed and disenchanted. I can blame them for not doing their part; when in fact, my eyes have been set on the wrong person. My eyes should have been fixed on my Saviour. My GREATEST expectations MUST be from Jesus.
That last line is so powerful, isn’t it?
Do you believe God desires to bless us? Do you believe that He longs to give to you in abundance? Jesus says this in John 10:10?
He yearns to give us LIFE in ABUNDANCE!
I am not saying that we will have a life free of problems and pain – I don’t think I could look at myself in the mirror if I said that. I know for a fact that this is simply not true. I know from my own life and I know from Scripture. BUT – sometimes, we need to look for the abundance…the blessings. We need to search for it. I can see it in my marriage, in the relationship with my kids, in my faith – wow – to have an abundant faith!! That did not come easily…or without pain. But it is abundant faith now!
Jesus tells us to consider the lilies of the field and how God has cared for them. We are reminded that He cares for us much more than flowers. (Matthew 6:25-33)
Jesus also enlightens us to the fact that as long as God gets the glory, He will answer our prayers. “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14: 13-14
In Malachi, we are reminded of His desire to shower blessings down upon us.
He wants to bless us! Of course, it seems that there requires offering on our part first. We must be active in this area. We can’t afford to be on the sidelines.
God alone gets the glory for fulfilling our needs and for blessing us. We must direct all glory back to Him. David knew where his expectation came from:
“My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5
What are you expecting from God? Are you expecting the regular things like safe travels and getting over the flu? Or are you expecting the impossible? Yes, prayers for safety and recovery are good. I pray for those things myself. But is that the limit? Do I dare ask for more?
I’d like to take a look at Ezra for our example of asking for the impossible. I know, not the most popular character or story in God’s word, but it is one I have found quite fascinating.
OK, a bit of history – in 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian king) started his campaign to capture Judah (among the captives was Daniel). Fast-forward to about 538 BC, Cyrus the Great, the Medo-Persian king conquered Babylon and then he issued a decree saying that the Jews could go back home. Over 42,000 Jews returned to Judah. However, some remained in Babylon for whatever reason.
In 520 BC, Cyrus appointed Zerubbabel, the rightful heir to Judah’s throne, as governor of Judah. Zerubbabel’s first priority was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Needless to say, this was a formidable task! The temple was in complete and utter ruin. Not only that, but the ‘locals’ did NOT want Zerubbabel and his people there! It wasn’t until the new king of Babylon, Darius I, stepped in that things got a bit better. Darius I made a decree saying the Jews could rebuild the temple and he would give them what they needed to complete the temple.
Now we get to Ezra. Ezra lived in Persia; he was one of the few who chose to stick around when the Jews returned to Judah. He felt God urging him to go to Jerusalem to help the Jews there – things weren’t going all that well. He couldn’t just leave Babylon. He had to ask permission from the king. That king was Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes (whom Esther married). And not only did the king permit Ezra’s trip, he offered to pay for the entire thing! He was very generous in giving gold, wheat, silver, offerings, etc. This is BIG! Ezra went to the king in expectation that God would answer by making the King agreeable. And God went so much further than that!
Ezra 8:21 is the verse I have in my car – a prayer of safety on our trips. So, yes, it is important to pray for protection in our travels. But I think Ezra’s journey was more dangerous than my drives to Kelowna, Vancouver…or just to the local grocery store. They were carrying the king’s treasure (although, one could say I am carrying the KING’S treasure as well 😉 !). There were many enemies on the road, however, they arrived in Jerusalem with every bit of treasure the king had given them. Ezra made some drastic changes in Jerusalem and God used him to set things right again.
Ezra’s prayers and expectations were BIG, and yet, God’s answers were even bigger! There are so many ways to see this story, so many ways that the Holy Spirit can speak to you. Many more ways than I can think of. My prayer is that you will hear His voice and listen to what He wants to say to you.
Wait…the story doesn’t end there! Can I bring in Nehemiah here, too? Do you have time for that? Go fill up your coffee cup if you need to. This is much too good of a story to let it slip by. Nehemiah plays a huge role in this story.
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. He was in a very trusted position. Do you know what the cupbearer did? He tasted the food and drink before the king or queen consumed it. If the food or drink were poisoned or spoiled, the cupbearer would either die or warn on the spoilage before the king or queen started chomping away. Not just anyone could fill this position! Could you imagine that job? Under the ‘pro’ list, you’d get to taste the food that was fit for a king! But on the ‘con’ side, there is a chance of death.
Well, Nehemiah got word from Jerusalem that there was a problem with the ‘locals’ and he was deeply saddened by the circumstances Jerusalem was in. He wept and prayed to God simply asking Him to hear his prayers. The king took notice of Nehemiah’s sorrow and inquired what was wrong. Nehemiah did not respond right away, but instead took the matter to God in prayer first – he was expecting God to do something!
The king finally discovered why Nehemiah was so upset. After hearing of Jerusalem’s plight, the king permitted Nehemiah to go to their aid, with supplies – AND with captains of the King’s army! He permitted Nehemiah to leave Babylon for 12 years! The temple was rebuilt and after his 12 years, Nehemiah returned to the King. There were many instances in the book of Nehemiah where God came through abundantly for the Jews. For He is a God of abundance!
Big Expectations Need Big Prayers
What are you expecting of God this year? Do you dare to expect great things from Him beyond safe travels and managing the cold and flu season?
Will you join me? Will you DARE to expect something HUGE from our God? Are you feeling the urgency to begin expecting much, much more from our Mighty King? Do you know what to expect when expecting from God?