HOW TO PRAY AUDACIOUS PRAYERS THAT CHANGE THE WORLD
Bible Passage: Psalm 145.
GREAT BIG GOD!
When I was a baby Christian, someone gave me two books: God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew and The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. Back then, I didn't know much about the Bible or theology, but those books introduced me to a great big God. They laid a foundation of faith in my life.
Brother Andrew described God's supernatural interventions at crucial moments. When Andrew drove Bibles into the old Soviet Union, God "blinded" the border guards' eyes to the boxes of forbidden Bibles in the trunk. Stories like that meant that I grew up in the Christian faith believing in a God who can do anything. Nothing is too great for him.
When we believe in a great big God, we will pray great big prayers. We'll join a long line of God's people through the millennia who dared to ask God for the impossible. Believing that God is both willing and able to answer audacious prayers led Joshua to ask for the sun to stand still, and Nehemiah to pray for the restoration of Jerusalem, and Esther to pray for favor with the king. Most of all, it led Jesus into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray that he would not waver at the cross, but would die and rise again for the salvation of the world. Talk about an audacious prayer.
Today, I want to teach you how to pray audacious prayers that make a positive impact. The beauty of prayer is that every Jesus-follower is invited to partner with God to change the world. He hears and answers. That's how Habakkuk prayed:
(Habakkuk 3:2) Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known.
It's time for all of us to get onboard with this amazing prayer-partnership with God. Let's pray some outrageous, God-sized, prayers for our families and schools and workplaces and St. Clair County, and the unreached peoples of the world, and the Cornerstone Church. If our prayers aren't so big they scare us, they aren't big enough. How should we pray audacious prayers? Turn to Psalm 145 and we'll read it for ideas.
HOW TO PRAY AUDACIOUS PRAYERS
Psalm 145 is magnificent. Its portrait of God elevates his greatness and goodness in our minds. It is to this great big God that we bring our great big prayers. Let's follow the P.R.A.Y. acrostic to guide our audacious requests:
P: PRAISE GOD'S GREATNESS.
The verses that focus on God's greatness elevate our faith. They plant a vocabulary in our minds that we can use when we face our limitations. There are no limits on God's greatness. He is unstoppable:
(Psalms 145:3) 3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom
Jesus said, in the context of helping a rich man refocus his faith from his wealth to his God:
(Matthew 19:26) “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
The things that limit us do not limit God. He lacks nothing. He has the power, the wisdom, the resources, and the desire to answer prayer. So, start your audacious requests with new expectations drawn from the greatness of God:
He does mighty acts - in the world, here, now: verse 4.
He does wonderful works: verse 5.
He does powerful, awesome works: verse 6.
He rules with power: verse 11.
He rules forever, without end: verse 13.
Make your prayers about what God is able to do. Focus on his abilities. Build your faith on his potential. Forget about yourself, your limits, your powerlessness, your past failures, your fears. Fill your mind with the greatness and glory of God.
R: REMEMBER GOD'S GOODNESS
The descriptions of his goodness in Psalm 145 guide our prayers since God manifests his greatness through mighty works of goodness:
God always does the right thing: verses 7, 17.
God loves people who are weak and fallen - verses 8, 14.
God takes care of us: verses 9, 15-16, 20.
God keeps his promises: verse 17.
God answers prayers: verses 18-19.
God is both great and good (abundantly good, verse 7). Jesus is the greatest example of this. As the incarnation of God, he is the living picture of what God is able and willing to do for us. Jesus healed the sick. He delivered the demon-oppressed. He forgave sins and silenced the storm. He spoke with authority and love.
Abraham knew that God is full of love and mercy for lost sinners. That's why he prayed so fervently for the evil city of Sodom. And he kept praying and pleading. God answered because God is good.
Our prayers reflect what we know about God and his desire to love us, heal us, deliver us, and save us. So, stand in the gap for family, friends, church and world. Intercede with audacious prayers.
A: ASK ACCORDING TO GOD'S GREATNESS AND GOODNESS
What problem is there in your life or in the world that only God is great enough to solve and good enough to care about? Pray about that. Ask God to do what only God can do. Go scary big in your requests.
Moses did this. His nation had forged a golden calf and worshipped it instead of God . Of course, the Lord was not impressed (Exodus 32:9-10). Moses passionately pleaded for God to spare them from judgment. He stood in the gap because he knew God was loving and merciful. It was an audacious prayer.
Therefore, as you pray, pray huge prayers just as Jesus did. What passion has grown as you meditate on the Bible? What people or place or problem has God put on your heart? What vision or direction? No matter how big, or impractical, or impossible it seems, do this: Pray for it. Don't pray about it. Pray FOR it. Ask the Lord to perform it according to his will and his promises and his goodness. Say, "You, Lord, have done great things for us, and we are filled with joy; (Psalms 126:3) now do them again."
Y: YIELD TO GOD'S WISDOM
God answers prayers:
(Psalms 145:18-20) The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him ...
God answers prayers, but only according to his "truth" - that is, according to his will and his goodness. We can't manipulate God. No, we pray with "fear" or respect for his will to be done.
Jesus modeled this in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before his crucifixion (Matthew 26:36-46). We only know some of what he prayed, but I imagine it went something like this: "Father, save the world through me. That's why you sent me here. If you can do it without the cross, do it. If not, may your will be done." What a huge prayer: "Use me to save the world." It's a prayer based on God's greatness and goodness. Jesus taught us to pray in exactly the same way in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13): "Your will be done on earth."
What if we all prayed, "Not my will, but as you will"? "Lord, I yield myself to your plans. Whatever you want Lord. I'll go anywhere, do anything, saying whatever. Show me, lead me, help me."
I don't believe I pray enough and when I pray, I don't pray for enough. My prayers are too small because I forget how big God is. My imagination isn't vivid enough to envision all that God wants to do in me and in the world. How about you? Today, I'm asking you to dream big and pray big so that the world will see how big God is; for example:
Lord, I'm stuck in neutral and I'm coasting through life. Light a fire in my heart for Jesus and lead me to fully invest myself in your great cause. Your will, your way, all day, every day.
Lord, open doors for me to share Jesus with the CEO of my company.
Lord give me the focused commitment I need to raise my children to find and follow Jesus.
Lord, increase my income and generosity so that I can fully fund Hope Story's work with orphans in Zambia for one year (or ten years).
Lord, give us the next generation. Bring them to the Cornerstone in droves to find life and hope and deliverance and their life's calling in Jesus.
Lord, give me courage to overcome my hurts, habits, hang-ups, and everything that keeps me from your calling in my life.
Lord, send my family and me to share Jesus with an unreached people group. Show us exactly where and when, and open doors to the how.
Lord, I know you want me to open my home to a child in need. Help me say yes to foster care or adoption.
Lord, give the Cornerstone the people and the funds and the vision to build a family ministry center on our gravel lot.
Lord, make a way for us to start a second and third Cornerstone campus so that we can be the catalyst for a Jesus-movement in St. Clair County.
Tell me, were those audacious enough? If not, come up with some of your own. I don't want to put a lid on your faith. Pray bigger to the God who is bigger still.
I'd love to hear what audacious prayers you are praying. Please let me know.
PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING AUDACIOUS PRAYERS
It can be quite a challenge to pray audacious prayers. It's easier to be passive and to settle for what is familiar, comfortable, safe, and convenient. I battle that tendency every day. However, it is evident that Jesus never leaves his followers in the same state he finds them. There is always more. He is calling us to step up and seek his will in prayer.
Three principles have helped me to embrace God's direction in my life and to pray big prayers to bring it to fruition. The three principles are based on everything I know about the greatness and goodness of God from my study of the Bible and from my experiences with him.
Principle One: Where God guides, God provides. He never asks us to do anything unless he is willing to provide everything we need. Over and over again, I've seen supernatural provision of open doors, favor with people, finances, and resources. God will never call us where he cannot care for us. We will never do anything with/for God until we fully embrace this principle because we will not have the courage or conviction to step out in faith.
Principle Two: There's always a "but God!" When attempting something hard or risky or expensive, I think to myself, "It's too much money (or whatever I don't see in the natural), BUT GOD will provide." And he has done it over and over again. He will make a way. He is the difference-maker. Don't focus on how great the mountain of obstacles is; rather, focus on how great God is.
Principle Three: Never make a decision based on what I can do in the natural, but always on what God can do in the supernatural. If God plants a vision or a direction or a project in my heart, I have learned to think, "I don't see any way I can do that. However, I believe God can make it happen." Author, H. B. Charles, observed that great things happen when we join our natural to God's super (It Happens After Prayer). Many of God's plans look impossible, unbelievable, or impractical from the natural perspective. People will oppose you or laugh at you or try to dissuade you. Stay in line with God's purpose and plan and he will guide and provide in ways that blow your mind. Always embrace the supernatural perspective.