But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one
who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For
that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is
a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8)
George Muller of was one of the greatest prayer warriors of all time. He kept a detailed journal of his requests and God’s unique responses. In total, he documented over 50,000 answers to prayer in his life.
In his heyday, Muller opened 5 orphanages and ministered to thousands of England’s children. Every farthing, meal and stick of furniture was provided by prayer. In Roger Steer’s biography of Muller, he tells one amazing answer to prayer that happened at sea.
In 1877, Muller was crossing the Atlantic when his ship ran into thick fog and the captain slowed the vessel to a crawl. Muller explained to the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by the following afternoon, but the captain said there was nothing he could do, it was too dangerous to proceed in fog.
That’s when Muller asked the captain if he could use the chartroom to pray and ask God to change the weather. The captain – who was not a believer – allowed it, although he told Muller that prayer was a waste of time. And so, Muller prayed for a few minutes, while the captain watched with skepticism. Muller stopped his prayer abruptly, almost in mid-thought. The captain asked him, “Aren’t you going to finish?” Muller replied, “There’s no need to pray any longer, for the Lord has already answered.
The two men ascended from the bowels of the ship to the deck, where they discovered the fog had lifted. The captain became a Christian not long after witnessing the power of prayer.
The first time I read that story, I thought to myself, “I don’t think I would have had the enough faith to ask God to change the weather.” According to James, one necessary ingredient to a vibrant prayer life is faith. Often, times we don’t pray because we think our request is too big or that God is not willing. Oh Lord, help our unbelief. How many times have we blocked a blessing from God because our faith is too small?
Yet, the record of Scripture is clear – big requests are small matters for an omnipotent God. Joshua prayed and God made the sun stand still, so that he could win the battle against the Amorites (Josh. 10). Elijah prayed and the heavens turned to brass for three and a half years, so that nary a drop of rain fell (Jas. 5:17). With the nation under siege, Hezekiah prayed and God dispatched an angel to destroy 185,000 Assyrians in one night (2 Kings 19). God’s power has not diminished one ounce.
Spurgeon wrote, “Prayer pulls the rope down below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly; others give only an occasional jerk at the rope. But he who petitions heaven effectively is the one who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might!”
Indeed, the greatest tragedy of prayer is not that our requests go unanswered, but that they go unasked. In fact, the only way you can fail is if you stop praying. You don’t know how God may answer until you pray. So don’t let doubt and unbelief keep you from pulling the rope!