“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let you requests be known to God.” Philippians 4:6
Have you ever paid attention to how much God likes to give when you read the different passages in the bible? There are several examples to choose from, here are a few:
In John 2:1-10 we find Jesus, some of His disciples, and Mary, His mother, are at a wedding celebration in Cana. Wedding celebrations in that time could last up to a week and at this particular celebration they ran out of wine. At this time, in this culture it would reflect badly on the groom for this to happen.
In a nutshell, Mary takes the time to point out the fact that the wine is now gone to Jesus. His response is that His time has not yet come. Undeterred, Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. Jesus has the servants fill six stone water pots with water and take some to the master of the feast. After tasting the water turned into wine (which he did not know was the case) the master of the feast then complements the groom for bringing out the good stuff late in the celebration.
This is normally credited as Jesus’ first miracle, turning the water into wine. But it is so much more than that. Above I pointed out that the wine was good enough to elicit a compliment from the master of the feast. That in itself is a step above average, but Jesus doesn’t stop there. There were 6 stone pots that were filled with water, in verse 6 we are told they are between 20 and 30 gallons each. That’s between 120 and 180 gallons of wine! Talk about an extravagant wedding present!
How about when Jesus fed the 5000 in John 6:1-14. The 5000 just refers to the men present, scholars tell us that totals including the women and children put the number of people there at closer to 20,000. Jesus starts with five barley loaves and two fish. When all is said and done Jesus has His disciples collect all the fragments, and they fill 12 baskets. This is the leftovers! How’s that for a little church picnic?
How about one that makes feeding the 5000 look small in comparison? Exodus 16 tells us about how God provided for the Israelites after they had left Egypt. Every morning God provided manna for the nation of Israel. Scholars estimate that at this time there were approximately 3,000,000 Israelites at the time. In order to feed that many people it has been calculated that there would need to be approximately 4,500 tons daily. On the sixth day they were told to collect a double portion since there would not be any manna on the Sabbath (v 26) so that would be 9,000 tons on that day.
Over the 40 years they were in the desert over 67,000,000 tons of manna appeared supernaturally! On top of that in verse 21 it tells us that when the sun became hot it melted, implying that there was still some on the ground after they had gathered manna, each to their need, each day. Again we see God being extravagant, and this is when they were complaining! (v2)
Manna is not the only food God provided for them, in verse 13 we are told of quail coming into camp in the evening. If they averaged one quail per person that would total 3,000,000 quail each night. Try and wrap your head around that many quail coming to the city where you live each evening. And this in the wilderness, not necessarily where you might find quail, especially in those numbers. Also, in chapter 17, we see God providing water for them when He had Moses strike the rock. The amount of water needed for 3,000,000 people, and their livestock, totals about 15,000,000 gallons. DAILY! That is more than 22 Olympic sized swimming pools!
As I am writing this I can’t help but be overcome with awe when I think about the shear enormity of providing food daily for 3,000,000 people, and God did it, extravagantly! And these are just a few examples given to us in the bible.
After reading about these times God was extravagant you may ask, “Why isn’t God being extravagant in my life?” I think there are a few reasons. First, and simply put, we don’t ask. Or, we don’t ask God for all He can and wants to give to us. In other words we think too small. When Paul wrote to the Philippians about making requests to God (Phil. 4:6), the words he used in Greek meant we are to earnestly beseech or to be passionate in our requests. In other words Paul is telling us we can and need to be bold when we take our requests to God.
As I look at my prayers I can honestly say I don’t think big enough when I pray. Nor am I as bold as I should be. We all need to think bigger and be bolder when we pray. Much bigger and much bolder. After all, we really are called to win the world for Christ. Not a small task.
Another reason I believe we don’t see God working extravagantly in our life is that we try to dictate to God what we think we need when we pray. Or we expect God to answer our prayers a certain way. When God answers our prayers in the way we need them answered verses how we want it done it can look like He is not being extravagant, we may even feel like we have been slighted. It is important to remember God is much wiser than we are and He know what we actually need and if you really look at how He answers your prayers you will see what has truly happened in your life.
Finally, Jesus told us not to store up treasure here on Earth but in Heaven (Mt 6: 19-21). I think we tend to forget about this because we tend to be a little shortsighted. We want the immediate gratification. From an eternal perspective the treasures we have stored in Heaven are much more important than anything we might get while here on Earth, they will last for all eternity.
Without any frame of reference it is hard to see what we have stored up in Heaven until we get there and honestly when we get there I think it really is going to be one of the last things we think about. After all, we will be in the presence of our God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
There are times when we do need to pray about specific things we need in our lives. By all means, do so. Just don’t get so focused on the details you forget to look at the big picture. God is extravagant and He wants to give us so much. Boldly ask God for all He has for you and allow Him to work in your life.