We have been talking about miracles in our new message series for Christmas called, Expect Miracles. In the first week, we said that people who expect miracles are more likely to recognize and experience them when they happen. We also discussed the following week that miracles are collaborative efforts. We have to prepare for miracles by acknowledging our part in causing the problem for which we need a miracle and then removing the behaviors, thoughts, and bad habits that prevent God from working miracles for us.
We also prepare for miracles by praying for them. It is the most obvious step of all, but we often overlook it or get it wrong. If you want a miracle, you have to ask for one, and you have to ask for it in the right way.
First of all, we have to approach prayer with joy. Saint Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). This doesn’t mean we should rejoice in our particular circumstances. Rather, we should rejoice in who God is in our lives, despite the circumstances we face.
Second, prayer remedies worry and fear about a problem. If there is a storm going on in your life, your anxiety about it will make you feel out of control. We usually assume the worst will happen and dwell on those anxious feelings, letting them consume us completely. You can pin that anxiety down in prayer.
Third, offer to God an anticipatory prayer of thanksgiving. Waiting until after the miracle happens to thank God is too late. We should believe and trust that the Lord will handle our situation and carry us through the storm. Start by thanking God before the miracle arrives. Approach the miracle with an attitude of gratitude and bring your request with a spirit of thanksgiving. One time, Jesus was getting ready for a big miracle. He was going to resuscitate his friend Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. Before working the miracle, Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me” (John 11:41). Thanking God in advance clearly demonstrates that you are expecting a miracle.
Finally, we should make our request for a miracle as specific as possible. Don’t just pray for peace in general. Pray for peace with that family member who hurt you. Don’t just pray that God improves your finances. Pray that you will be debt-free by this time next year. Don’t just pray for emotional strength during an illness or that the doctors make wise decisions, pray specifically that the person will be completely healed. Trust in God’s power by being specific in your requests.
But, above all, “[p]ray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and “[w]ait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage” (Psalm 27:14).
—Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Father Roger Gustafson