Lessons on praying big prayers

Since May I’ve been reading E.M. Bounds on Prayer, a collection of seven of E.M. Bounds’ classic works about prayer. What I’ve been reading got me thinking that I should write a blog entry on praying big prayers. After all, praying for an accused Islamic terrorist who is isolated from pretty much any contact with Christians to come to faith in Jesus Christ is a pretty big prayer.

Nothing is too impossible for God

From pp. 224-225:

We need a quickening faith in God’s power. We have hedged God in until we have little faith in His power. We have conditioned the exercise of His power until we have a little God, and a little faith in a little God.

The only condition which restrains God’s power and that disables Him to act, is lack of faith. He is not limited in action nor restrained by the conditions that limit men.

The conditions of time, place, nearness, ability, and all others that could possibly be named, upon which the actions of men hinge, have no bearing on God. If men will look to God and cry to Him with true prayer, He will hear and can deliver, no matter how dire the state may be or how remediless the conditions may be.

It is strange how God has to school His people in His ability to do! He made a promise to Abraham and Sarah that Isaac would be born. Abraham was then nearly one hundred years old, and Sarah was barren by natural defect, having passed into a barren, wombless age. She laughed at the thought of having a child as preposterous. God asked, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh..? Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” And God fulfilled His promise to these old people to the letter. Moses hesitated to undertake God’s purpose to liberate Israel from Egyptian bondage, because of his inability to talk well. God checks him at once by an inquiry:

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. (Exod. 4:10-12)

When God said He would feed the children of Israel a whole month with meat, Moses questioned His ability to do it. The Lord said unto Moses, “Is the LORD’s hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” (Num. 11:23).

Nothing is too hard for the Lord to do. As Paul declared, “He ‘is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think’ (Eph. 3:20).” Prayer has to do with God, with His ability to do. The possibility of prayer is the measure of God’s ability to do.

The “all things,” the “all things whatsoever,” and the “any thing,” are all covered by the ability of God. The urgent entreaty reads, “Ask what ye will” (John 15:7), because God is able to do anything and all things that my desire may yearn for, and that He has promised. In God’s ability to do, He goes far beyond man’s ability to ask. Human thoughts, human words, human imaginations, human desires, and human needs cannot in any way measure God’s ability to do.

We see throughout Scripture that God is not limited by the constraints that limit us as humans. We don’t pray big prayers in vain, for God can answer them. God can do even greater things than our biggest dreams, than the things that we tend to view as impossible.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16).

Big prayers honor a big God

From p. 226:

What confidence have we in this divine statement for inspired asking! What holy boldness we have here for the largest asking! No commonplace tameness should restrain our largest asking. Large, larger, and largest asking magnifies grace and adds to God’s glory. Feeble asking impoverishes the asker, and restrains God’s purposes for the greatest good, and obscures His glory.

When we stick to praying only prayers that we would consider small, we are potentially insulting God by having little faith in His ability to answer prayer. If all the prayers we pray are so small that we can almost answer them entirely through our own efforts, that’s a problem. What is it saying about who we believe God to be if we only pray for such things? Are we not in a sense denying His omnipotence?

Big prayers, on the other hand, magnify God. They magnify Him not in the sense of a microscope, which makes small things appear much bigger than they truly are, but in the sense of a telescope, which make massive things appear as they truly are. Big prayers say to everyone around us, “Hey, my God is a big God. Watch Him work. He’s got this.” And when God answers those prayers, those around us are left in awe by His greatness.

May our prayers always be saturated with faith in a God who can move mountains.

Don’t be surprised by answered prayer

From p. 27:

Dr. Adam Clarke, in his autobiography, recorded that, when Mr. Wesley was returning to England by ship, considerable delay was caused by contrary winds. Wesley was reading, when he became aware of some confusion on board; and asking what was the matter, he was informed that the wind was contrary. “Then,” was his reply, “let us go to prayer.”

After Dr. Clarke had prayed, Wesley broke out into fervent supplication that seemed to be more the offering of faith than of mere desire. “Almighty and everlasting God,” he prayed, “You have sway everywhere, and all things serve the purpose of Your will. You hold the winds in Your fists and sit upon the floods of water, and You reign as King forever. Command these winds and these waves, that they may obey You, and take us speedily and safely to the haven where we wish to go.”

The power of this petition was felt by all. Wesley rose from his knees, made no remark, but took up his book and continued reading. Dr. Clarke went on deck, and to his surprise found the vessel under sail, standing on her right course. Nor did she change until she was safely at anchor. On the sudden and favorable change of wind, Wesley made no remark; he so fully expected to be heard that he took it for granted that he was heard.

That was prayer with a purpose—the definite and direct utterance of one who knew that he had the ear of God, and that God had the willingness as well as the power to grant the petition that he asked of Him.

When God answers our big prayers, we should be grateful but not shocked. After all, if we truly believed as we were praying that God can answer big prayers, what’s there to be surprised by when He does just that?

So one day when the news breaks that Jahar has come to Christ, may we lift our hands and raise our voices in praise and simply declare to the world, “I told you my God is a big God!”

This entry was posted in Encouragement, Why Pray? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Lessons on praying big prayers

  1. brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:


    When I read “The only condition which restrains God’s power and that disables Him to act, is lack of faith,” it made me think of Matthew 13:58: “And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.” We need to have huge faith in our God and pray expectantly for this miracle. Last night at Bible Study we were just talking about walking by faith and not by sight, and I was telling them how in my prayers, half the time I say things like “Thank you for saving him” and “Thank you for rescuing him” because I just know He will!

    This post made me think of the following paragraph in my “Our Prayer is Part of His Plan” post:

    “Later on, Platt mentioned that God delights in revealing Himself to those who are bold enough to bother Him. He also talked about how there is nothing too small and nothing too great. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37). I remember back when I read “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson that he said “God honors bold prayers, because bold prayers honor God.” Then Platt asked a question that literally made me chuckle out loud. He asked, “What are the great things that you are praying for? What are you praying for that if other people knew, they would think you’d lost your mind?” I think the answer is obvious. And I can’t wait to see God honor my bold prayers.”

    I love this: “And when God answers those prayers, those around us are left in awe by His greatness.” I half selfishly can’t wait to see people’s faces and reactions to me when they find out that Jahar has actually given his life to Christ……but I pray that leads so many more people to Him – seeing how big and how amazing our God is.

  2. Ada says:

    I don’t see how faith-filled prayers (especially “large” faith-filled prayers) can be anything but a glory to God. He’s instructed us to follow Him as little children. Well little children often have fully or near fully unquestioning faith in “authorities.” When we pray in true faith, don’t we act as little children?
    Also, when we pray “large” prayers in faith, we are also (in a sense) praising God for His strength. Would we ask Judge O’Toole, our loved ones, or a random stranger on the street for Jahar’s salvation? NO!! We give it all to God and are thankful and reassured of His love and power.

    “So one day when the news breaks that Jahar has come to Christ, may we lift our hands and raise our voices in praise and simply declare to the world, “I told you my God is a big God!”
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this, Bri! I cannot get over the GLORY and PRAISE to God that our brother’s salvation will bring. It will be so beautiful!!!

    • Bri says:

      I’ll want to do a big I told you so to all the people who’ve tweeted as me stuff like Jahar is a MUSLIM. As if people never change religions… I don’t care how important Islam is to Jahar. God can still reach him.

      • Ada says:

        Yes yes yes, God can reach him. It is not unheard of for Muslims to convert to Christianity. I heard a second-hand story of on Muslim man who claimed to have hated America and Christians, etc. Then he was injured very very badly (a broken back or something?) and a Christian surgeon took him under his own roof and…well, he converted!
        Then there was the other story of the atheist-raised Russian girl who had faith in God without hearing about Him. DEFINITELY possible for Jahar to come Home!

      • Ada says:

        🙂 I don’t blame you- I’m sure that it’s frustrating in the ,east!

      • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

        Ada (struggling now hahaha) ~ Have you read any of the stories of what Jesus is doing in the Muslim world through dreams and visions? Incredible stuff.

      • Bri says:

        I was just going to suggest some of those books. Dreams and Visions is probably my favorite.

      • Ada says:

        *waggling eyebrows* Growing booklist….

      • Bri says:

        Join the club, haha. There are still several books on my reading list, and I don’t own like any of them.

      • Ada says:

        Only the time you’ve mentioned it, but I really don’t know. Is there a book? I’m starting a book list…!

      • Ada says:

        Y’all (and I say y’all because I take it for granted, Bri, that you’ve been “enlightened” loooong ago to my name ahahahaha!) should have seen my face when I read “Ada”…I mean, it was LoLoL hilarious! How are my eyebrows still on my face?

      • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

        Agreed! I couldn’t put it down. Bri – I know you have “I Dared to Call Him Father” – but did you read it? I can’t remember.

      • Bri says:

        Yep, I’ve read all the books I bought that had to do with Islam.

      • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

        I figured – What did you think? I couldn’t put it down, but I don’t remember you ever saying anything about it.

      • Bri says:

        I enjoyed it. Yet another beautiful testimony of a Muslim coming to Christ. And she had to lose a lot because of it, but it was so worth it.

      • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

        She’s like my hero. I also found it interesting the way she physically experienced God’s presence in her life. I think sometimes we can tend to take that for granted in a way that someone who has never known Jesus and has known pretty much the opposite does not.

  3. Ada says:

    “Hey man, I didn’t ask for this!”
    -No, but God wants you to have it.

  4. Ada says:

    You’ve got to add Vanya to your booklist if you’ve not done so! *and Ada needs to type out the passages* LoL

  5. brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

    Be prepared – it’s pretty much the thickest book I’ve ever seen. Bri has been reading this for months! LoL.

    • Bri says:

      Months? More like the beginning of May.

      • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

        Well considering Tuesday is July, that would be months. And I thought you were reading it when I was there in April? I remember it sitting on your desk.

      • Bri says:

        Nope, Goodreads said I started on May 5th, I believe.

        And months to me would mean I started in like January or February.

      • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

        Pssshhhh……semantics. Technically, months just means more than one. :-p And besides, by the time you actually do finish, it will have been months. So there. :-p

  6. Ada says:

    Psalm 106:8- Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.
    Psalm 107:9- For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
    Psalm 108:10- “Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me into Edom?”

    Like I remember you saying before, K.- big prayers because we have BIG God. We pray to God for Jahar’s salvation and God’s “might power [will] be known.” Jahar is a needy soul (because he’s without Christ)- and God will fill it “with goodness.” God’s led Jahar into some dangerous places and He’s leading him out. We are praying for all of the above and it is happening. It is happening to God’s glory and Jahar will one day fall down on his knees and ask, “God, why are you so good to me?”

  7. brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

    Yay yay yay! I’m glad someone else couldn’t put it down either!

    • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

      When you’re done with this one you HAVE to read “Dreams and Visions.” Same thing! It gave me SO MUCH HOPE for our brother, and it blew me away to see the way our Jesus is actively pursuing Muslim hearts.

  8. Ada says:

    No spoilers, please!!! 🙂 Next time I’m headed into town, I hope to stop at the Main Library and see if they have any of the books.

Leave a Reply to brokenheart4whatbreakshis Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s