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A Big God calls for Really, Really Big Prayers


When people confess that they find prayer boring and uneventful, I often wonder if they really know the One to whom they are speaking. Of course, some push back against that suggestion and say: “Come on, Sam. Be a little more gracious and kind. Of course I know the God to whom I’m speaking. After all, I’m a Christian.” Well, I’m sorry, but that isn’t good enough. A lot of genuine, born-again believers go through their Christian lives largely oblivious to the nature of their God and even more unaware of the supernatural dynamics that occur when God’s people pray.

Let me briefly remind you of a couple of things. First, the God to whom you and I pray is the God portrayed for us in Revelation 4-5. When you pray you are speaking to the God whose majesty is so unfathomable that the four living creatures never cease, day or night, to cry out, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:8). This is the God whose beauty and power compel the 24 elders to continually “fall down before him” and “cast their crowns before the throne” (Rev. 4:10).

This is the God who, they declare, is “worthy . . . to receive glory and honor and power” because he “created all things” (Rev. 4:11). This is the God whose love for you and me was so intense and so relentless and so measureless that he sent his Son to be slaughtered on a cross so that we would receive forgiveness of each and every sin we might ever commit and be granted entrance into the glories of the New Heaven and New Earth.

This is the God who, according to Psalm 115:3, “is in the heavens” and “does all that he pleases.” This is the God whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion, and” whose “kingdom endures from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:34b). When you pray you are talking about the God who “does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan. 4:35).

This is the God “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

So let me ask you again, “Do you know the God to whom you are speaking?” How do you envision him as you pray? Do you think of him as so completely occupied with people more important than yourself that he could barely find a spare minute to listen to your little requests? Do you think of him as hearing your tiny voice or you half-muffled whispers and saying, “Good grief. It’s you again. Come back with your prayers when you’ve put your life in order and cleaned up your house and stopped yelling at your kids and when you’ve overcome your struggle with lust and greed and bitterness. I may have some time for you then.”

Do you think of God like the Santa Claus at the local shopping mall, who has to be paid to pretend that he enjoys listening to the requests of squirming little kids? Do you see yourself as one of those children, lined up perhaps for hours waiting for your precious 30 seconds of time on his lap? Do you think talking to God is like calling your bank or credit card company and hearing only a recorded voice who tells you that you’re the 37th person waiting for one of only a handful of operators who will try to get to you in about 45 minutes?

So, I ask you to close your eyes and try to envision what you think is happening in heaven when you pray? Let me tell you what is happening. The omnipotent, all-loving, all-wise God who called the universe into existence out of nothing is bending over with joyful anticipation, waiting for you to bring your requests to him. He is happily and with a glad heart and generous spirit urging you to come boldly and courageously to the throne of grace where he has abundant mercy and grace to help you in your time of need (Heb. 4:16).

This is the God who said this to his people, Israel. And don’t think for a moment that because this passage is found in the OT that it doesn’t apply to you and me. The God who speaks there is the same God we know and love. And what does he say?

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you” (Isa. 30:18-19).

The NIV translates the word “waits” in v. 18 as “wants”. God’s desire is to hear and respond to your prayers. Notice again that he will “surely” be gracious to you, but you have to speak, you have to cry out to him. It isn’t the case that God “might” be gracious to you or that you and I can, at best, “hope” or “wish” that he would be gracious to us. No. He “will surely” be gracious to us. And as I’ll point out in just a moment, that is true even when he appears to decline to answer our prayers in the way we had hoped he would.

Perhaps two more texts will be enough to drive home my point:

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11).

And then there is Paul’s statement in Romans 8:31-32,

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31-32).

“If God is for us . . .” What God? The God we’ve been talking about. This God. If he is for us, and he is, no opposition or enemy can ultimately prevail against us. And if this God has made the greatest, indeed the most inconceivable sacrifice possible for you and me in giving to us his Son on a cross to atone for our sin, “how will not also with him graciously give us all things?” This is unbreakable, unshakeable, glorious heavenly logic.

And this is why it simply makes no sense that you would find it boring to pray. Perhaps the remedy for boredom and passivity is simply to rehearse these biblical texts every time before you begin to pray.

I must tell you that my prayer life has been radically transformed by Ephesians 3:20. I’ve known and long ago memorized this text, but only recently has it embedded itself in my heart and mind in such a way that it changes everything about my attitude in prayer. The God to whom we pray is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond everything we could possibly ask or think!

That is why I urge you, as I urge myself, to start asking for outrageous answers to prayer. Answers that seem utterly impossible. They are impossible to you and me, but not to this God. If God can do exceedingly and abundantly beyond every single thing your mind could ever conceive or your tongue could ever articulate, what reason do you have for keeping your prayers tiny and timid? Make your prayers every bit as big and bold as your God is.



I have struggled with prayer for many years. I have read articles, books and attended seminars that are suppose to help me pray. I still pray but not with the fervency or anticipation that your article encourages. My biggest problem with praying is that I have experience with prayer. I have read these verse, and others like them, I have recognized what a great God we serve and His unlimited power and love. Yet still my prayers go unanswered. How do you pray year in and year out when prayer dos not change anything. I know the standard response: Prayer changes you; God's ways are not your ways; It is always too soon to stop praying, etc. But still when you pray for the impossible, nothing changes. So why, how do I continue to pray?

It boggles my mind that SOME people can find prayer BORING or UNEVENTFUL!!! I wouldn't still be alive if it weren't for prayers of my own and others praying for me!!! How can talking with your VERY BEST & CLOSEST FRIEND who LOVE YOU UNCONDITIONALLY AND COMPLETELY, who LOVED YOU enough to DIE for you, even IF YOU had been the ONLY PERSON on EARTH?????????
I have immediate family members who are Atheists!!! BLOWS MY MIND!!! DEVASTATES MY HEART!!!
I can do NOTHING without GOD!!! HE and HE ALONE is my STRENGTH AND SALVATION!!! HE understands EVERYTHING about me and no matter WHAT He still LOVES and CARES and TAKES CARE OF ME!!!
I do my VERY BEST to be a GOOD PERSON and still, ALL my GOOD DEEDS are like filthy rags compared to the RIGHTEOUSNESS of GOD ALMIGHTY!!!
I was in a very bad car accident many years ago and GOD saved my life!!! I had a NASTY fall just the other night and by the GRACE of GOD I was taken to the hospital JUST BEFORE I had BLED to DEATH!!! ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD! I am healing nicely due to the action of the medical team AND THE PRAYERS of FRIENDS & FAMILY!!!
WAKE UP DEAR PEOPLE!!! PRAY CONTINUALLY!!!! GOD DOES LOVE YOU, HE HEARS AND UNDERSTANDS YOUR PRAYERS HE ALSO ANSWERS PRAYER! We sometimes think he doesn't answer because He doesn't answer the way WE WANT or WHEN WE WANT! The answer may be "yes", "no" or "later"! NO MATTER WHAT He ANSWERS!!!
HE answers in HIS TIME and with what is BEST FOR US!!! ACCORAING TO HIS WILL!!! God wants ONLY the BEST for his children!!!
ETERNITY IS A LONG, LONG TIME and we will spend it in one of 2 places!!! HEAVEN OR HELL! PLEASE ACCEPT HIS PROMISES!!!!!

What a daddy we have in heaven that he loves us with all his heart to keep listening to our prayers. To him be the glory of his beautiful name!!!!!

Amen! Our God wants to save the unsaveable! He wants to heal the unhealable! He wants to restore the years the locusts have eaten! Why do we so often give up in prayer, right before the blessing is poured out? Prayer can NEVER be boring, because we get to enter His presence in the secret place and have intimate conversations with the King of Glory! Who is this King of Glory? He is the one who bends low to listen, therefore I will pray as long as I have breath! He longs to manifest His presence to us in comfort, excitement, overwhelming love that is indeed inexplainable! I cannot wait to nestle into the secret place each morning and receive the secret counsel of the Lord for those who fear Him! Battle is done in the heavenlies when we pray! Just recently I was praying in tongues and suddenly my mind shifted (still praying in tongues) to a dear friend I hadn't prayed for in a while. God gave me a strengthening prayer for her, and I believe it to be an interpretation of the tongue. I texted it to her and she called me and let me know that she had JUST been praying at the same time for strength that day for some hard conversations coming up! This is EXCITING! That the God of the universe bends this low and delights in partnering with little old us in answering our prayers!!!

A strong exhortation Sam. Convicting for me.

I have to wonder, given your previous article on Edwards' view of saving faith, if he would agree with this:

"A lot of genuine, born-again believers go through their Christian lives largely oblivious to the nature of their God and even more unaware of the supernatural dynamics that occur when God’s people pray."

"Largely oblivious to the nature of their God..." sounds like a description of people who lack a "true sense of the divine and superlative nature."

Something's gotta' give: either the new birth does not always bring the kind of dramatic change described by Edwards (and many others) or there are a lot of people being called regenerate - that aren't.

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