Pray The Impossible

August 7, 2022

David Sorn

Christians need to trust in God’s timing and will, but we also need to pray the impossible!

Pray The Impossible

August 7, 2022

David Sorn

Christians need to trust in God’s timing and will, but we also need to pray the impossible!

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | Joshua 10: 1-15


(Joshua Series Slide)

Morning everybody. Hey, I’m David Sorn. The Lead Pastor here.

Ever heard of George Dantzig?

George Dantzig was a senior at Stanford University during the Great Depression.

In those days, most of the seniors knew they'd be joining unemployment lines when the class graduated.

Maybe the top person in each class might get a teaching job.

George was not at the head of his class, but he hoped that if he were able to achieve a perfect score on the final math exam, he might be given a job.

He studied so hard for that math exam that he arrived late to class.

He was embarrassed that he was late, so he just began, without question, quickly working the eight problems on the test paper; and the two problems he saw written on the board.

Try as he might, he couldn't solve either of the two on the board.

He was devastated.

But just as he was about to hand in the paper, he took a chance and asked the professor if he could have a couple of days to work on the two on the board.

He was borderline shocked when his professor looked at him funny and then said, “Sure.”

George rushed home and dove deep into the 2 questions.

He spent hours and hours, but he could only find the solution for one of them.

He never could solve the other. It was impossible.

When he turned in the test, he knew he had lost all chance of a job.

It felt like the darkest moment of his life.

Later, there was a pounding on his door and awakened George.

It was his math professor!

He said, "George! George!" he kept shouting, "You've made mathematics history!"

What George didn’t know is that before the exam, the professor had told the student: "Remember, there are classic problems that no one can solve.

He then wrote two apparently impossible problems on the blackboard and said: “Even Einstein was unable to unlock the secrets of these 2 impossible problems."

Well, George had come to class late and missed those opening remarks.

And so he had no idea the problems were “impossible” to the math community at the time.

And he didn’t know the problems weren’t even a part of his test.

And so thus, he went home and did the impossible.

And his math professor made George Dantzing his assistant immediately, and George taught at Stanford himself until his retirement.

I want to come back to that later, but for now, everybody grab a Bible

(Page 152)

(Joshua 10:1-6)

As you’re grabbing it, let me recap where we are in the Book of Joshua, which is the story of how God brought the Israelites into the Promised Land

So far we’ve seen the Israelites have major victories at the cities of Jericho and Ai, but last week in chapter 9, they were tricked into signing a peace treaty with their nearby neighbors, the Gibeonites

And this happened because the Israelites never prayed about it.

They didn’t consult God’s Higher Wisdom.


So let’s see what happens next:

(Joshua 10:1-6) – NIV

Now Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and totally destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and that the people of Gibeon had made a treaty of peace with Israel and had become their allies. 2 He and his people were very much alarmed at this, because Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters. 3 So Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem appealed to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon. 4 “Come up and help me attack Gibeon,” he said, “because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites.”

5 Then the five kings of the Amorites—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon—joined forces. They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.

6 The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.”

So these five different Kings decide to make an alliance to fight against Joshua & the Israelites

And their strategy is to attack Israel’s new ally, Gibeon.

So Gibeon sends a runner to Joshua with the news.

Let’s see how he responds.

(Page 152)

(Joshua 10:7-11)

(Joshua 10:7-11) – NIV

7 So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. 8 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”

9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.

(Pray the Impossible Title Slide)

Now, this is interesting because (as we said last week) Joshua wasn’t originally supposed to sign a peace treaty with the Gibeonites.

Because the Gibeonites were residents of the Promised Land, so they therefore were supposed to be conquered.

But, the leaders didn’t inquire of the Lord, and they signed the deal.

And now in this chapter, we see Israel’s enemies attacking who?

The Gibeonites!

And wouldn’t this be a really easy way to get out of promise the Israelites shouldn’t have made in the first place? Just let the Gibeonites be destroyed?

Sure, but Joshua knows that you don’t fix a sin by committing another sin (the breaking of their promise and word)

And that’s a good Biblical principle for our own lives to remember (especially at work for many of you)

And so the Israelites rush off to defend the Gibeonites…

And so the Bible tells us in verse 9 that they do an all-night march from Gilgal to Gibeon.

By the way, this is a brutal march.

It’s about 20 miles, and a climb of 3,300 feet.

When they say “all night,” the mean they literally marched and climbed ALL NIGHT.

It’s probably 8 to 10 hours of hard marching.

And that’s partly why you see God assisting in the fight by raining down hailstones.

Joshua’s army would have been up all day, and then in the evening made an energy-exhausting all-night march, and then battled all the next day on no sleep, and then chased down the fleeing evil army

So the Lord is helping in the fight here.

And God is using hailstones because the main false god the Amorites worshipped was Baal… who was the “storm god”

And God is showing both the Amorites and the Israelites that there IS no “storm god,” He is the only God.

By the way if you have questions about the violence in this chapter, and why God would allow it, and even participate in it…do not miss next week, as we’re going to take a whole message just to answer the question, “Why is the book of Joshua so violent.”

SO be there for that.

Let’s keep reading.


(Page 152)

(Joshua 10:12-15)

(Joshua 10:12-15) - NIV

12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,

and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still,

and the moon stopped,

till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,

as it is written in the Book of Jashar.

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!

15 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

(Pray the Impossible Title Slide)

So Joshua has most of the Southern Kings of Canaan (the promised land) all together and on the run.

From a military perspective, this is a strategic opportunity of a lifetime …but the sun is going to go down, and the enemies will escape under the cover of darkness.

And so Joshua prays for the sun to stand still, and in what is perhaps one of the most amazing miracles of the Bible, the sun stops moving for a full day…

Allowing the Israelites total victory.

Now, let me say a couple of things on that…scientifically…as I know you may have questions, and this is a “thinking church”

If we say the sun stood still, does that kind of imply that the sun normally moves, which it doesn’t really, right?

The earth rotates around the sun.

But don’t let the language distract you.

The Bible is merely using Joshua’s language of observation here.

And what’s crazy is that we even still use the same language today

If you hear a weather report, and they say, the sun will rise tomorrow at 6:00am, you don’t say, “LIAR! I believe in science!”

It’s just an observational way to describe something.

Secondly, how did this actually happen?

How did Israelites have additional sunlight for almost a whole extra day?

There are a few possibilities here:

It is possible (because God can do anything) that God literally slowed the earth’s rotation (and then mitigated any other adverse gravitational effects)

It’s possible that God used a miracle of refraction where the earth continued to rotate as normal, but God caused the sun to shine on Israel from a different angle.

Much like light shines at a different angle when it hits the water, etc.

(Show image)

Or here’s an example of a ray of light being refracted as it goes through a plastic block.

So it’s possible that God miraculously refracted light to the promised land in this way.

Or it may be that God just supernaturally provided light in what looked like the sun.

We see elsewhere in the Scriptures where God does similar things.

The 9th plague in Egypt was the plague of darkness where it was dark for 3 days in Egypt, yet light where the Israelites lived.

When Jesus dies on the cross, darkness comes over that part of the land for 3 hours.

(Pray the Impossible Title Slide)

There are lots of possibilities.

If you’re still thinking, “Honestly, this just feels like a fable or a tall tale that the ancients would have made up….”

Maybe this is helpful…I often think of it this way….

In our “Life’s Biggest Questions” series back in February, we discussed the overwhelming evidence there is for the truth that God created the universe.

And if that’s true…

If God created entire galaxies…billions of them…just by speaking (“Galaxy appear!”)

If we believe that (which most do), then listen, bending light for one day on one little planet, is honestly not that big of a deal for God.

This is a God who makes the impossible, possible.


And that’s a truth that we much each remember.

Because some of us have been looking at our situations and we keep labeling them as impossible.

Some of you in here have a relative (maybe a sibling or parent) that you haven’t talked to in years.

And the idea of reconciling feels, well, impossible.

Maybe you’ve been plagued by a health problem that you and the doctors just can’t seem to figure out

And you’re starting to feel like they never will

Maybe you’ve been living with depression so long now that getting out of it is starting to feel impossible.

Let me tell you what we do with impossible here…

DO you know?? ☺

We pray the impossible.

And we can do that because we worship a Big God.

We worship a God who created…planets…and galaxies.

And so let me ask you a few questions about what you believe:

How big is your problem?

Put in your head, the biggest problem you’re facing.

The habit you can’t change

Your child that walked away from God?

The thought pattern you can’t seem to make go away

How big would you say that problem is?

Now, I want you, in your mind, to set God right next to your problem.

And let me ask you another question:

How big is your problem?

How big is your God?

Which one is bigger??

I know you know the answer to this…but on the other hand, do you?

Would the evidence of how you’re living your life say that you truly know the right answer to this?

How big is your God?

Because the Bible says in Ephesians 3 that God is able to do IMMEASURABLY more than you can imagine He can do.

How big is your God?


And here’s why that question matters so much.

Those who believe in a God that can do the impossible, pray impossible prayers.

I was really struck by verse 12 this week.

It says that Joshua prayed, “Sun stand still,” but he prayed it in the presence of the Israelites!

Be honest…

If we were holding an outdoor service right now, and I got up and prayed, “Lord, make the sun stand still!”

You’d think I’d lost my mind.

But Joshua’s faith is growing and growing and growing throughout this book.

And after He saw God throw down the hailstones, he just goes for it!

“LORD, we need to finish this battle, so, so make the sun stand still!”

Love it!

(Pray the Impossible Title Slide)

Here’s what you need to know about God from this chapter of God’s Word:

God is not insulted by your big prayers

Did you know that you’ve probably never prayed a prayer too big for God?

I think God is probably more bothered by our small prayers if anything ☺

“God, if it’s not too hard for you…could you…”

I think God is thinking, “You know I made the Milky Way, right? Like, I can make sure you find a job in Ham Lake! Not too hard”

No offense to Ham Lake. They have a lake shaped like a ham! Incredible!

And so we need to stop categorizing things as impossible.

I think back to the math student George Dantzing from earlier.

He solved the problem no one else could solve because there was no preconceived idea in his mind that it was impossible.

That wasn’t a roadblock for him.

So get rid of those ideas in your mind that are going, “That’s not possible”

For God, it’s possible!

But there’s a tension here, right?

As students of the Bible, like many of you are, you know that we live in a Biblical tension when it comes to prayer.

It’s the tension of, “I should pray impossible prayers, but God also isn’t going to answer that prayer unless it’s in His will”

Now, there are certainly churches out there on the far end of the spectrum, praying impossible prayers and expecting God to act like some genie in the bottle to every command they make

And while I can’t speak for everyone in here, if I had to pick which side of the tension the people of our church are erring on, it’s that we’re probably not praying enough impossible prayers.

When I’m in House Groups, I hear more prayers like, “Lord, if it’s your will and if you are able would you please make Grandma Ethel’s ankle feel a bit better (if you can Lord)

Rarely, do I hear the next guy in the group stand up and say, “LORD MAKE THE SUN STAND STILL!” (or anything like that)

And so as Bible-believing Christians, we’ve got to let passages like this pull us bit back to the middle the tension.

Yes, we trust in God’s will AND in his timing (and that’s important), but we also remember that Jesus taught us this:

(Matthew 17:20b) – NIV

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

And so as followers of Jesus, He just told us: We’re supposed to pray the impossible!

Jesus says, “If you need to tell a mountain to move from here to there…then pray that it moves”

God says, “If you need to tell the sun to stand still, pray the impossible!”

(Pray the Impossible Title Slide)

And so, YES, if your son walked out the door years ago, and said, “I will NEVER talk to you again…and I want nothing to do with your God!”

Okay, well you can just sit there in pain, or you can pray the impossible!

“Lord, Sun Stand still! I know you can do it!”

If you’ve been weighed down by anxiety for so long, pray that God sets you free for it!

He made the sun stand still!

He created the galaxies of our sky!

Start praying the impossible again!

Yes, trust in His will, but we’ve got to start praying again like God actually does miraculous things!

Christian, if you don’t believe God can do the miraculous in answering prayers, I’m not sure how you think you’re going to get to heaven…because that journey sounds pretty miraculous to me!

Here’s the tension you should live in:

We are to pray with such faith that we believe God could make the sun stand still, and yet trust Him with the same level of faith even if He chooses not to.

And so if you’ve been unable (as a married couple) to conceive for 2 years now, you still pray the impossible…even if it’s been 2 years.

You believe God can do it because He’s the God that makes the sun stand still.

And yet because you also know He’s not a genie doing your will, you’re constantly listening for His will.

Is it adoption Lord? Is it something else?

But you keep praying like He can, because He can.


(Pray the Impossible Title Slide)

In fact, let’s do this now.

I want to call our Worship Team back on stage.

We’re going to pray the impossible

We say we’re a Bible-believing church that believes in a big God…so let’s not merely academically assent to that, let’s live this out.

We’re going to worship here in a second, and in a few minutes I’m going to call up all of our elders, their wives, all prayer team members that are in this service…to come up now to the front of the stage

And they are going to be here to pray over you.

And if you have an impossible prayer (and a ton of you do!), I want you to come down to the altar in faith during this last song, and I want you to have these spiritual leaders pray over you.

Tell them your prayer (pray w/ them if you want), and they will ask God to make possible what we think is impossible

You may have to wait a minute for an opening, and that’s fine.

Sure, we don’t know what God is going to do.

It may be that you start praying today, and He answer it in 5 years.

But better to start now than 10 years from now!

Or it may be that He answers it today!

The Bible says that you do not have because you do not ask.

So ask!

Pray the impossible!

Joshua asked the Sun to Stand Still, and I bet God said, “YES! Finally somebody who will pray a prayer like they actually believe I’m a BIG God!”

So pray it.

At this point, I want those leaders I mentioned earlier to come up to the stage.

And as they’re coming, let me tell you, there is…ONE PRAYER…that you can pray, that I guarantee God will answer.

And to some of you, it actually feels impossible, but I KNOW He will answer it.

And it’s the prayer of salvation.

You may have come in here today, knowing that you’ve sinned against God…that you’ve messed up, hurt people, and you maybe even think, “It’s impossible that God would love me.”

And I’m telling you that you are wrong.

He promises us that if we believe in His Son Jesus….

…that Jesus died on the cross for our sins…taking our place and our punishment.

That if we believe in that, He will forgive our sins, give us eternal life in heaven, and allow us to be led by Him as a Good Father, the rest of our lives.

You can know forgiveness today.

And so if you come to Him and you pray, what may even feel impossible, and you pray, “God I ask that you would forgive a sinner like me, and come into my life and save me…”

I guarantee you He will do that and answer that prayer!

So let’s do this…

Right as we begin to sing, I want all of you who have impossible prayers to come down to the front and receive prayer from these men & women up here

And if you’re here, and you need to give your life to Jesus for the first time, and accept Him as your Leader and Savior, I want you to walk over here to the right side of the room where Pastor josh will meet you and pray with you.


Let’s pray the impossible because we worship God who makes all things possible!

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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