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For the last couple weeks, Jess and I have been praying about something specific for one of our kids. Rather than explain all the details, I’ll simply say that it’s important to us, but in the grand scheme of life – not to mention the world at large – it isn’t of utmost significance.
We were reflecting on our prayers recently, and Jess was trying to express this feeling: it’s important, but it’s notmost important. With all of the turmoil in our world – the people who are suffering so much more than we will ever know – our request seemed to pale in comparison.
And that got me thinking. Does God really care about this request? I mean, aren’t there more important things for Him to be worrying about?
Maybe you’ve thought something similar about your own prayers. I mean, look around, you might think. The world is filled with hardship and poverty, grief and struggle, extraordinary pain and suffering. In the light of all of that, my little request seems awfully insignificant. Perhaps not significant at all.
Here’s the problem with that line of thinking: it’s wrong.
Okay, I shouldn’t overstate it. You do need a healthy perspective on the world – and your place in it. Perspective reminds us to be grateful. It keeps us from wallowing in sulky self pity. But if someone is whispering in your ear, “God’s got bigger things to care about than this. Don’t waste His time. This isn’t important to Him,” then that someone is dead wrong.
It’s a classic fallacy of our “made-in-the-image” minds. We get the process backwards and start judging the Creator by the limits He created around us. (Remember that the One who sets the boundaries has to exist outside of them.)
But don’t worry. God’s not going to let us get away with that for long. “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
It’s like God is playing the ultimate “one-up” on us. See you’re right here…and I’m WAY up here! It’s the ultimate “I walked on the moon” story.
So what does that mean for the prayer you’ve just lifted to God? It has all the significance in the world! You see, you’re not praying to a finite being. You’re praying to an infinite Being! And that changes everything! Here are three quick reasons.
You Can’t Escape God’s Care
You and I have finite attention spans. We can only process so much information. And we can only know that which is communicated to us.
Consider the example of last year’s Paris shootings. As the world cried out in outrage at these terrible crimes, some pointed out that similar shootings had recently occurred in Africa without provoking a fraction of the attention or outrage. Most people never even knew they took place.
In fact, the vast majority of the world’s suffering will take place unnoticed by you. And by the same token, to whatever degree you endure suffering in this life, it will go unnoticed by the vast majority of the world.
But no suffering goes unnoticed by God.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” Jesus asks his disciples in Matthew 10. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”
You and I are finite and limited. We can’t know everything, and we can’t even care about everything we know. But God is infinite. He knows everything. He sees everything.
And this is SO important: unlike my kids when you try to talk to them while they are watching TV, God’s care and attention for you are never diminished by His care and attention for another.
God cares about the Syrian refugees. And He cares about that tiny sparrow that just fell to the ground. And He cares about your request.
Don’t try to qualify it. You can’t put a percentage on something that is infinite. Don’t try to figure out how much He cares. Simply rest in this truth and take heart: He cares.
You Can’t Expend God’s Time
I like video games. I’ll admit it. Now that I’m a dad of three I don’t have much time for video games, but I wasted many an hour in my youth with a screen in front of me, a controller in my hands, a blank stare on my face, and a small amount of drool trickling out of the side of my mouth unnoticed.
It can be particularly sobering when a video game logs the amount of time you’ve spent playing. It only takes some rough math to figure out about how many days of your life have been wasted achieving a meaningless triumph over a cartoon enemy in a non-existent fantasy world.
The whole concept of wasting time only exists because our time is limited. Think about it: how could you waste something that was unlimited?
But God’s time is not limited. It can’t be wasted. “With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day,” writes Peter (2 Peter 3:8), extrapolating on Psalm 90. Peter isn’t producing a mathematically paradoxical formula for measuring “God years” like “dog years.” He’s poetically reminding us that God exists outside of time.
Nor is God bound by the cycles of day and night, work and rest: “Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). God does not need His beauty rest.
You can’t waste God’s time with your prayer because it’s not possible. You are not a nuisance to God, a distraction from His “real” business.
You are a dearly loved child coming into the presence of the Father.
He is delighted to hear your voice.
You Can’t Exhaust God’s Love
Do you ever wonder if you’ve just pushed God too far? If he’s finally going to say, “Okay, I love you, but that’s the last straw?” Or if God is too busy loving the other seven billion people on the Earth to really love you?
It’s so easy to apply to God our own finite ability to love. We can’t help but imagine Him running out of patience with us, just as we have with others. But in reality, it is His infinite love that is the source of our ability to love.
The Bible has far too much to say about God’s love to list it here. Perhaps God knew we would need constant reminders that, yes, He really does love us! Scripture reminds us forty different times that God’s love and kindness are “unfailing.”
And then there’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible, in Lamentations, of all places: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning.”
This is such an amazing promise to remember, whether you’re facing your most desperate hour, or lifting up a simple prayer request. God’s patience with you never runs out. His love for you is as constant and unchanging as the sunrise.
And His ability to love you is undiminished by the love He has for every other person on this earth, whether they are Syrian refugees, Wall Street bankers, your next door neighbor, or even – I don’t…want…to write it – Donald Trump.
Don’t be afraid to lift your prayer to God. There is no prayer too small for an infinite God.
You can’t escape His care.
You can’t expend His time.
And you can’t exhaust His love.
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