We all love receiving more than we expected, don’t we?

Like when you order a product online, and to your surprise the company throws in some extra goodies or samples as a bonus.

Or perhaps it’s your birthday, and your family outdoes themselves with a party, special gifts and a scrumptious meal, all despite being in a lockdown.

It makes us feel valued to be the recipients of these unexpected blessings.

God certainly knows this. That’s why He often seems to enjoy outdoing Himself, showing up in a big way in answer to prayer or simply to demonstrate His power and majesty.

This is how Paul describes God’s “above and beyond” abilities in Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (NKJV, italics mine)

The term Paul uses to express God’s ability to work beyond what we pray for, think or even dream is possible is variously translated “superabundantly more” (AMP), “infinitely more” (NLT), “immeasurably more” (NIV) and “far more abundantly beyond all” (NASB).

However you phrase it, it says a lot about God’s character, His generosity and his abounding love for His children.

Take the example of Hannah in the Old Testament. She certainly found out that God often does more than we could expect.

Hannah had been barren for many years, and had endured ridicule as a result (in those days, a woman’s value and esteem in society were connected to her ability to bear children).

In anguish and tears, she petitioned God for a son. God heard Hannah’s prayer, and she bore Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20).

Hannah probably would have been happy with just the one child, but God had a surprise in store for her. She later bore three more sons and two daughters. The woman who had been barren for years now had six children, all because of the God who does exceedingly abundantly above what we could ask or think.

And then there’s the story of Aaron’s rod, as told in Numbers 17.

God wanted to demonstrate for the children of Israel exactly which man would be His choice for high priest. He told Moses to gather rods from each of the twelve tribal leaders, as well as from his brother Aaron. They were to write each man’s name on his rod.

God said that the rod of the man who was His choice would bud or sprout. This would be miracle enough, considering that each staff was probably made of old, dead wood.

The next day, however, Aaron’s rod had not only budded, but it had put forth flowers and even produced ripe almonds! A process which would normally take many months had happened overnight.

Almond tree in flower. Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay

God had outdone Himself—He went above and beyond what they were expecting.

Jesus was also known for miracles of abundance. Twice He caused His followers to unexpectedly have such a large catch of fish that their nets began to break. When He miraculously fed the 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish, there were 12 baskets of food left over!

Knowing we have this kind of God, let’s have the faith to pray some big prayers. If our prayers are in accordance with His will and for His glory, it’s probably impossible to pray prayers that are “too big.” As Phillips Brooks said, “Pray not for crutches but for wings.”

At the same time, we must recognize that in His sovereignty and wisdom God will sometimes not answer our prayers in the way we want. We can’t see the big picture of what God is doing, and sometimes His purposes are worked out through the suffering of His servants. In Hebrews 11’s “Faith Hall of Fame” we find wonderful stories of miracles, but also accounts of persecution and martyrdom. Sometimes we have to “let God be God,” and trust that whatever happens, God is good and He is in control.

But it just may be that God will surprise you and do more in your situation and life than you ever dreamed possible. He may do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

So let’s pray some big prayers, believe in God’s goodness, and then stand back, because God may just show up in a big way!

“I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”

Psalm 81:10

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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