As we prepare to step into the fall ministry season, my mind is again drawn to the story of King Joash [aka Jehoash]. Here’s a quick summary.
Joash was a king in Israel; and in 2 Kings 13, he faced a significant enemy. Out of desperation, he went to see the prophet, Elisha, who was terminally ill. Elisha ends up telling him to shoot an arrow out the window, which he then declares as an “arrow of victory over Syria.” After that, Elisha directs Joash to strike the ground with the remaining arrows. This action symbolically represented the scope of victory the Lord would grant. It is a cool moment, but the problem was Joash didn’t know or care about the importance of asking…and didn’t ask for much.
See…the Lord was going to grant victory based on how many times Joash struck the ground, but he only struck the ground 3 times. So when Joash finished, Elisha got angry and scolded him saying: “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”
That’s a big bummer!! Instead of a complete and extensive victory, Joash would only recover what he lost because he asked for little [see verse 2 Kings 13:25]. He could’ve had something greater if he had only asked for it. Sadly, we do that same thing. We ask for little or don’t ask at all and end up with less!
Jesus once said: 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” [Matthew 7:7-8]
That’s incredible! The possibilities could be limitless, but the limiting factor to prayer is…US!
The effectiveness, impact, reach, relevance, scope and power of prayer is limited by us. It’s our spiritual condition…our hearts…our requests that restrict the influence of prayer. James, the brother of Jesus, actually points out “you do not have, because you do not ask.” [James 4:2b, ESV] He goes on to talk about our hearts being the problem as well.
Ouch! We are all too often then the limiting factor.
Just to be clear…I’m in no way advocating any form of prosperity gospel, but I am acknowledging the truth of God’s Word:
– We can ask, and we can receive. [Matthew 7:7-11]
– If we ask for little, we will get little. [2 Kings 13:25]
– If we don’t ask [or don’t ask with the right motive], we don’t receive. [James 4:2-3]
So what’s limiting the effectiveness of your prayers? Your heart? Your time? Your requests?
As we step into the Fall season, prayer remains of utmost importance. So let’s be a people of prayer who ask for things that are the caliber of 5 or 6 strikes on the ground…not just 3. Pray that the Lord will do abundantly more than we can ask or think. [Ref. Ephesians 3:20]
There are 200,000 people in our region that do not yet know Jesus, and we need the Lord to grant us victory in reaching them.
Keep pressing on.