Joshua 10:12 “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.”
Do you ever feel like the requests that you need to pray are unreasonable, brash, or “asking for the moon” from God? May I challenge you that our prayer life suffers not from asking for too much but from asking for too little.
The day of the battle of Beth Horon was wearing on and Joshua knew that the pursuit of the enemy would be long and arduous. At the most the military leader had 12 hours of daylight ahead of him. He clearly knew that he needed more time if he were to realize the fulfillment of God’s promise (v. 8) and see the total annihilation of his foes. Joshua therefore took to the Lord an unusual request. A request that should shame our feeble prayers and embolden us to direct the big ask toward an even bigger God!
Here are three ways that prayer enables us dare to ask for what feels “impossible”:
Pray the impossible TO the Lord who controls His creation.
Joshua was not praying to the sun or the moon. He was calling upon the name of the Creator of all things to give him more time to pursue the enemy, by asking the impossible—that the sun would stand still and the daylight be extended. As to how this happened, we have no easy explanation. The science appears absolutely impossible. But, after all, that is what makes a miracle a miracle. God made a day like none before or after (v. 14). It was a singular modification of the natural order, if only for a few hours. It is a vivid reminder that with the Lord all things really are possible (Matt. 19:26). It also anticipates the only other day in world history when the light will not fail—the day of Jesus’s second coming, which ushers in the new heaven and new earth, where there will be no night whatsoever (Rev. 22:5). On that day, the Lord’s enemies will be overthrown and the Lord’s people gloriously delivered forever! Talk about the impossible getting done!
Prayer reminds us that sight-oriented math and science doesn’t always add up to the outer limits of what is the best-case scenario with God. Believing prayer is, by its very nature, asking God for impossibilities. If we could do it ourselves, why would we pray? We would have no reason to pray. No doubt many do not pray because they are sure they can go it alone without God. Prayer was created not to process what is possible but what is labeled as “impossible!”
Pray the impossible BEFORE God’s people.
It is strikingly wise that Joshua does not level this request within the private recesses of his prayer closet but “in the sight of Israel.” This placed a God who is always concerned with His glory and reputation on notice. If you review through the most powerful and “impossible” miracles every done by God, they are, almost without exception, preceded by a public plea before the same crowd who will serve as the audience of the heaven-sent miracle.
Praying the impossible before others is what allows God to get the exclusive credit. What are we commanded to pray for on a regular basis? Surely the content of the Lord’s Prayer comes to mind. Can we guarantee the hallowing of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, the doing of his will, our daily bread, the forgiveness of sins, escape from temptation, or deliverance from evil (Matt. 6:9–13)? Can we even get close to accomplishing any of these things? The answer is obviously no! But with God? It is all possible for the One who carved with His fingertips the very canyon Joshua is now chasing the enemy-as well as the valley crowded with darkening impossibilities in which you currently find yourself.
Pray the impossible WITH audacious specificity.
So gripped was Joshua by the force of God’s promise that “not a man of them shall stand before you,” that he called upon the sun and moon to “stand still over Gibeon and the Valley of Ajalon” (v. 12). Joshua’s audacity, therefore, was not built upon his intercessory words as much as God’s inspired Word! According to one Bible commentator, “Here, as in many other passages, we are taught that the Lord God has a superintendence over all the creatures of His hand. He sends forth His imperious commands not only unto angels and men (Da. 4:34), but to the birds of the air (1 Ki. 17:4) and to the wild beasts (Da. 6:22), yea, to inanimate things … The host of heaven, as well as the inhabitants of the earth, are entirely at His disposal. The whole source of nature moves or stands still at the mere will of its Maker.” (One caveat to this post: For the manipulative “name it and claim it” tendency in some of us, this means that the specific, bold request is ultimately still submitted to the all-wise Sovereign who can do anything but will always do what is for His glory and our good!)
To be biblical in your prayers is to be audacious! Not only do our prayers never stretch what is possible because we doubt God and don’t go public with our request but also because our prayers are so vague. So vague that it is impossible to measure whether the prayer was actually answered or not. Thus, the reason God does not get involved in our impossibilities. There is no glory for Him without a detailed, grand request on our part. Like Joshua, find and claim “big, hairy, audacious goals” found in the eternally alive and powerful Word inspired by a Spirit that yearns to be unleashed in your life.
By the way, the “long day” of Joshua 10, can be explained with a big view of the Lord. What did actually happen on that strange day? The answers are numerous (an eclipse, clouds over the sun, refraction of the sun’s rays, etc.). But the best explanation seems to be the view that in answer to Joshua’s prayer God caused the rotation of the earth to slow down so that it made one full rotation in 48 hours rather than in 24. It seems apparent that this view is supported both by the poem in verses 12b–13a and the prose in verse 13b. Did you catch that? We are a praying to a God who makes everything possible if he can slow down or speed up THE ROTATION OF THE EARTH! Don’t tell me praying to this kind of God is foolish or futile. Can God in your family, your church, your body, your mind/heart? God can!