I’ve been thinking about big prayers. Prayers for miraculous healing, restored marriages, deliverance from addiction, or (fill in the blank with your own seemingly insurmountable life issue). I’ve noticed that when we pray big prayers, the kind that are unreasonable, we tend to tack on four wimpy words, “if it’s Your will.” It’s like we need to give God an “out” or set ourselves up to make excuses for God if our prayers aren’t answered.
Certainly we want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. That desire is built-in to the nature of a Christian. The truth is, God’s will will be done. For reasons only known to the Sovereign God, He chooses to use imperfect, wimpy, faith-challenged folks like us to accomplish it. But God doesn’t need us to make excuses for Him or word our prayers in such a way as to allow God (or us) to “save face” if God chooses not to move in the way we have requested. And far be it from us to try to figure out why God chooses to do what He does. It’s funny how we say things like “God must have wanted her more” when instead of healing, death comes. Or, “God must have something better for us” when we don’t land the job, as if we understand the mind of the Almighty.
I say forget making excuses for God. Instead, I think we should be a little more confident, coming “boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16) Be honest, how often, when you pray your big unreasonable prayers, do you really, really pray in faith believing that God just might answer to the affirmative? Maybe we should practice expecting God to come through. For that matter, maybe we should practice having the guts to pray the big prayers in the first place!
We relegate ourselves to prayers that God will help us as we diet and then thank Him when we have the willpower to make the right food choices. We pray that we will do well on a test and thank Him when we do. We pray for safe travel, for a date on Saturday night, for successful potty training of our children, all things that are, for the most part, within our power to deliver. I absolutely believe God should be an integral part of every aspect of our lives – no matter how small, but it’s like we are creating our own religious reality when we limit our prayers to the things that can happen even without Divine intervention. Are we are so desperate to prove to ourselves and to the world that the God we worship is mighty and present that we feel it is necessary set up scenarios under which we think we make God look good? As if God needs us to collaborate with Him. I think we are doing the opposite. I think we arrest the creation of our own beautiful story of faith when we fail to exercise the power of the Almighty God that should be present in the life of a true believer.
I for one want a grander story. I want to walk in the presence of God the way that Jesus did. To say like he did “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (John 15:9) If I am dialed in to what God is doing, I can pray big prayers with confidence. I won’t feel the need to add the caveat “If it’s Your will.” How great would it be to have the boldness and confidence of Peter when he said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6). No wishy-washy mamby pamby “if it’s Your will” business, just “get up and walk!” That’s the kind of faith that changes the world! I won’t settle for less. How about you?