My God is not skimpy. And He doesn’t want me to make skimpy requests of Him. He reminded me of that once again this week when I was reading in 2 Kings 4.
A prophet had just died, leaving behind his wife and two sons. His creditor came to the widow requesting payment. When the poor woman said she could not pay, he demanded that her boys become his slaves.
Desperate, she went to the great prophet Elisha, who had known her husband.
“What do you have in your house?” the prophet asked.
“Nothing at all, except a small jar of olive oil,” she replied.
“Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few” Elisha instructed. He explained that when she had gathered up the jars, she was to shut her door, and pour oil into all the jars.
The woman did as she was told. I wonder how many jars she collected. I picture her house full of them. But Scripture doesn’t tell us. At any rate, the oil poured and poured, filling jar after jar, after jar—a miracle in front of her very eyes. “Bring me another jar,” she instructed one of the boys. But they were out. There were no more. And at just that moment, the olive oil stopped flowing. I felt her disappointment as if it were my own. How I wished she’d asked for more jars!
As I read that story, I sensed the Lord saying to me, Don’t ask for just a few.
I knew right away what He meant. In spite of His repeated invitations, I still am often hesitant to ask for “big” or “many.” Although His giving isn’t skimpy, my faith sometimes is. But He was challenging me to more.
The widow’s story has become a new picture for me to pray with. When I want to intercede for people, I picture each of them as a jar. One by one, I place each jar on the altar in heaven, name the need, and ask God to fill the jar. I have put all kinds of “jars” there—a Grecian urn, a colorful art-deco pot, an apothecary jar, a big garden planter, a cookie jar—all kinds of receptacles on God’s altar waiting to be filled.
This afternoon when I was “praying with pots,” I thought of the widow’s oil. In her case, oil was a practical commodity that could be sold to pay off her debts. But the Lord reminded me that oil is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The idea thrilled me as, in my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus filling each of the pots I’d placed before Him with the Holy Spirit! Isn’t the best answer to any prayer God Himself? If the Holy Spirit were to flood the lives of each of the people I’m praying for, all the needs I so carefully itemize before God would take care of themselves.
So, because of God’s encouragement, I’m taking a few more faith risks and asking not “just for a few.” My jar collection on heaven’s altar is growing—and I’m eager to see Him fill them.