If we want to live in hope, we must guard against “hope-killers”—those pesky predators that seek to destroy our God-given dreams. One of the most insidious hope-killers is anxiety. Like a slow leak, anxiety drains out the belief that we can trust God with our future. It then fills us with a low-grade dread that steals our joy. No wonder mental health experts are disturbed by the growing numbers of those suffering from anxiety—now the most common mental illness in the U.S.
I’ve discovered a simple prayer that helps quench anxiety and build hope. It goes something like this: “Lord, I surrender this dream into Your hands. I trust You to answer my heart’s desire in a way that goes beyond what I even know to ask.” In other words, “Surprise me, God, with more than I can imagine.” I call this “praying beyond.” This prayer is right in line with the Bible’s encouragement to entrust our dreams to the One “who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 NASB).
Praying beyond also helps me take my focus off the obstacles to my dream—or what I can see with my eyes—and fix my mind, instead, on God’s powerful promises. Praying beyond moves me out of the realm of fear into faith, fueling my hopes and dreams. Taking new territory. Walking on water.
Not too long ago, I was reading Ephesians 3:20 again—this time in a different Bible version. The words put a fresh twist on my “praying beyond” verse: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).
I continued to ponder the words “above all” as I went for a run: “God, maybe You’re encouraging me to look down upon my hopes and dreams as though I’m seated up above with You in the heavenly realm. From where You’re sitting, I imagine my hopes and dreams look pretty easy—nothing’s too hard for You. I believe You’re able to do above all I can ask or think.”
I rounded the corner and jogged by several buses. Suddenly, I had to smile as I looked at the name on the side of one bus. Seemed God was making His point loud and clear…and His answer was above all I could ask or imagine.