Have you ever prayed for something that seems impossible? That seems so impossible that while you are praying for it, there’s a thought in the back of your mind going, “No way is this going to happen!” I’ve prayed several prayers like that over the years, and God has graciously answered many of them. But a specific one came to mind recently when a friend shared at Bible study that her daughter is going on a mission trip to Albania.
During the summer of 1986, I was on a Summer Project with Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru) in North Myrtle Beach having the best summer of my life and growing like crazy in my walk with the Lord. One night we had whole evening devoted to prayer. I remember praying for our campuses and also praying for the world. Somehow my small group was given the country of Albania, and the book Operation World gave us direction in how to pray. In 1986, it told us that “Albania is Europe’s most closed and least evangelized land.” There were no missionaries listed as being there, and they estimated that there were only a handful of Protestants. The book noted that it “became a Communist Republic in 1945”, “proudly proclaimed to be the first atheist state”, and was “the most harsh and ruthless Communist regime in Europe”.
But under the prayer requests for Albania, Operation World also said, “Pray this land open!”1 So that is what we prayed for. We asked God to open up Albania so that missionaries could go in and that the people could hear the gospel and come to know Christ. But I’ll confess, it felt a little crazy to pray for that – for something that seemed impossible. There was no way to picture how our prayer could possibly be answered.
Fast forward to three years later. With the rest of the world, I was glued to the TV in amazement on November 9th, 1989. That night the Berlin Wall literally came down, but when it did, the wall holding people in atheistic Communism also came down. The destruction of the Berlin Wall led to the fall of Communism throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, opening all of those countries to missionaries and to the gospel. The last place Communism fell outside of the Soviet Union was Albania in December of 1990.2 By 1997, it was believed there were about 800 missionaries in the country.3
Our prayers for the impossible in Albania were joined with thousands of prayers by God’s people over all those decades of Communism. And God in His mercy in 1989 and 1990 answered those prayers and opened doors for millions of people to hear the gospel and come to know Him. “Operation World” online today even says about Albania, “Thank God for His work in this land that, for years, was resolutely closed to the gospel. Many credit concentrated prayer and intercession as major factors in seeing Albania opened for ministry.” What I thought was a crazy prayer and impossible wasn’t of course, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
My friend’s daughter’s mission trip probably doesn’t seem so amazing for those who don’t remember the world before 1989. But for me, it is a reminder that God does what I think is impossible. And so I need to keep praying for things like that. Because, as Paul said, God “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think”. (Ephesians 3:20, NASB) So even the things I ask for that seem impossible, He can do far more than those.
So are you praying for anything that’s “impossible”? Or do you hold back instead from a lack of faith in God’s ability or in His care for you and others? If you can’t imagine it happening, do you stop asking for it? Or maybe you’ve just lost hope in asking. I’m asking myself these questions as well. While I know that when I pray there is no guarantee that God’s answer will be “yes”, I want to be like the persistent widow in Luke whom Jesus uses in a parable to teach His disciples “that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart”. (Luke 18:1)
Albania is a good reminder of that.
- All Operation World quotes are on page 84 in the 4th edition published in 1986. Yes, I still have my copy!