I ask great gifts indeed, who knows it not? But Thou, the King of glory, knowest how to give greatly, and Thou hast promised great things; nothing is greater than Thyself and Thou hast given Thyself to us, Thou gavest Thyself for us.
- Columbanus, Sermon XIII, Irish, 7th century
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
- Jeremiah 33.3
We underestimate and undervalue the power of prayer when we spend it only to satisfy temporal or material needs.
We want a happy marriage, a little peace at work, well-behaved children, a safe trip, recovery from illness, a little less stress, help with some decision, and so forth.
In other words, we want a settled status quo. We’re not looking for “great gifts,” much less “great and mighty things” we’ve never known before. Just maintain or restore the peace and wellbeing, Lord, and that will do.
These are all fine things to ask for, but if they’re the primary content of our times of prayer, we are squandering a glorious opportunity and missing the greater benefits and blessings God wants to give us.
A better translation of Jeremiah 33.3 would be, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great things, and mysteries, which you have not known.” God promises that prayer can be for us a daily visit to great things and mysteries the likes of which we’ve never seen before. So it doesn’t surprise us that Columbanus, that great man of faith, asked the Lord to give him “great gifts” to do things he’d never undertaken previously.
If the prospect of that won’t get you to pray, I don’t know what will.
There is no one greater or more mysterious than God Himself, in Whose Presence are fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16.11). Is God suggesting that prayer is the setting within which we make our most intimate approach and deepest penetration into His divine Presence and being?
And does He invite us to seek there vision and skills and strength beyond what we’ve ever known before in order to serve Him in great and mighty works of obedient faith?
And if so, if we can actually achieve this in prayer – to become more fully and gloriously ensconced and enfolded and equipped in the very essence of God – then what will matter more, once we’ve been there, than getting back there as soon as we can?
Temporal and material needs pale into insignificance compared with being in the Presence of God, experiencing His glory, knowing His transforming power at work within us, and having His power work through us. We should bring all our needs to the Lord, but if they are many, and we intend to burden Him with them all, then let us make more time for the kind of prayer that seeks not what the Lord can do for us, but the Lord Himself – prayer that waits on Him, expecting Him to show us His glory and draw us into His bosom where eternal pleasures, incomparable joys, and hitherto unknown strength and skills await us.
This is the great object and privilege of prayer: Him. No one is greater, or ever can be.
Seek Him in your prayers, and your prayers – and your life – will never be the same.
1. In your times of prayer, how do you know when you are actually in the Presence of the Lord?
2. How can you add more time in prayer seeking the Lord – to know and love and fellowship with Him?
Psalm 40.1-3, 16, 17 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry,
lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save.
Let them shout for joy and sing who in saving grace delight!
Let them praise to Jesus bring, though affliction be their plight.
Christ, our help, our Savior He! Of us ever mindful be!
Teach me to pray for great things and mysteries, Lord, so that every day I…
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Walker, pp. 119, 121.