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!”