God expects you to do what you can do. That shows that you have faith—that you believe God is going to do what you can’t do. This is often referred to as “taking a step of faith.” The Gospels are full of examples:
Jesus told one man whose hand was withered, “Stretch out your hand.” The man obviously couldn’t move his hand, because it was withered. But as he put forth the effort, believing that Jesus would heal him, his hand “was restored as whole as the other.”1
Jesus told another man who had been blind from birth to go wash his eyes in a certain pool. It probably seemed to those standing by like a silly thing to do. But the man believed and obeyed and received his sight.2
When ten lepers begged Jesus to have mercy on them and heal them, He told them to go show themselves to the priests. According to the custom of the Jews, after a leper had been healed, he was to present himself to the priest to verify his healing. The lepers hadn’t been healed yet, but as they believed and obeyed, and went on their way to see the priest, they were healed.3
Before Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, the giant stone covering the entrance of the tomb had to be removed. This was something others could do. When the mourners gathered at Lazarus’s tomb obeyed Jesus’ request and rolled away the stone, they demonstrated that they believed Jesus was able to do the miracle of bringing Lazarus back to life—and He did. He could have used some supernatural power to roll the stone away, just like He supernaturally raised Lazarus from the dead, but He didn’t. He wanted to see the onlookers put their faith into action.4
Those who demonstrate their faith by doing what they can do have their prayers answered and see miracles. Those who ask, receive. Jesus was happy to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to comfort those whose hearts were broken, but those who had the faith to ask were the ones who most often received the blessing. God may be wanting to do a miracle in your life and may be simply waiting for you to ask. He has purposely limited Himself to our prayers and faith. When we are full of faith and ask God to work on our behalf, we loose His hands to perform wonders.
If you’re not sure what God expects you to do before He will answer your prayer, just ask Him. He’ll either tell you directly, or He’ll show you as you read His Word.
The pioneer missionary Hudson Taylor first went to China in 1853—a voyage that took over five months. Once, when passing very close to an island inhabited by cannibals, the ship was becalmed. Slowly it drifted toward the shore. The savages assembled on the beach, anticipating a feast.
“You’re a man of God, Mr. Taylor. Pray for God to do something to save us!” the captain implored.
“I will pray,” said Taylor, “provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.”
“I can’t do that,” the captain protested. “I’d be the laughingstock of my crew if I unfurled the sails in a dead calm.
“Then I won’t pray,” Taylor said. “First prepare the sails.”
It was done.
While Taylor was still praying in his cabin, there came a knock at the door. It was the captain again.
“Are you still praying for wind?” the captain asked.
“Well, you’d better stop,” the captain said, “because we have more wind than we can manage.”
And so they made it safely to their destination.