25 Aug '09
Bold and Bolder Faith
In Luke 11, Jesus taught his disciples how to pray with the Lord’s prayer. If you read that prayer it is a bold prayer with bold requests. But then Jesus goes on to expand his teaching on prayer:
“Then he said to them, Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.
Then the one inside answers, Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything. I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13)
Jesus is inviting us to be bold in our requests! He is inviting us to make BIG asks. He is affirming that when we pray God hears and doors open. He is making the point that just as we would not be stingy with responding to the requests of our own children that he would never be stingy with us His children.
Here is why I think so many people were profoundly impacted by the story of my illness. We often pray, not believing that God would actually do something BIG, or that we could make truly bold requests. That God can and does the miraculous in our day. But He did, and they saw it and it changed their understanding of prayer, faith, and God’s ability to do BIG things.
Because Mary Ann had heard from God early on that “it will be close but He will make it,” she would not let anyone into my ICU room to pray for me who would not pray for an absolute miracle and total healing. That was a bold move because there was no medical indication that I would pull through. Or, realistic hope.
If Jesus invites bold faith, if He invites BIG asks, we ought to take Him up on His offer. What is it that you need today? Be bold, pray BIG and wait for a loving father to answer!
It can be hard to be bold in our prayer or to do BIG asks if we are not used to doing this. There is another hard part of prayer. We are to pray bold and pray BIG but we are also to pray for God’s will to be done (Matthew 6:10). That is hard because while God always answers the prayer of faith (Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you – Luke 11:9-10) His perfect answer is not always our perfect answer!
God chose to heal me – twice - in His sovereignty. He does not always do that. That does not mitigate bold and BIG prayer. It requires that we understand that God’s perfect will is sometimes unseen by us. Even Jesus, on the eve of His arrest and death, prayed “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).
Let that sink in. Jesus was in agony over what was before Him. He pled with his Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him but even as He prayed boldly and with a BIG ask, in the same breath he said “yet not my will but yours be done.” Did God show up? Yes, an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened Him. Did God remove the path of suffering from Him. No!
A pastor friend of mine was exhilarated when God chose to heal me. He and his congregation had prayed hard, earnestly, boldly and BIG. He was devastated a few months later when God did not heal a young boy in his church who experienced a devastating accident at a youth retreat. This is a man of great faith and has been a model of prayer for me through the years. He was as devastated by God’s seeming lack of action as he was in God’s miraculous action in my life.
Reflecting on that event recently he said, “It is amazing how powerful prayer is when we pray in line with God’s will.” Ultimately, life is not about us but about God. Ultimately, God’s purposes are far greater than we can ever comprehend this side of heaven. If Jesus was bound by His Father’s will and willing to submit to that will, why would we, his followers and children, be exempt?
In this regard, one of the most misused verses in Scripture is Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes.”
Many assume that means that only good things happen to God’s people. Yet just a few verses later Paul asks “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).
Far from denying the reality of bad things, Paul says expect them. But know that even in the worst, nothing can separate us from God’s love. In that context we have to take Romans 8:28 that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” from God’s perspective not ours. It is not a promise that life will not include pain. It is rather a promise that when it does, God has a purpose and a plan that is still good and perfect and that he can use even our pain for His greater purposes.
God does not always remove suffering from our lives – and He did not for Jesus but He does redeem that suffering for greater divine purposes. Bold prayer, prayer that storms the gates of heaven is unapologetic in its requests and BIG in its scope. But it is not bold without praying for God’s ultimate will to be done. That is the boldest prayer because that prayer invites God to do what is ultimately best from His perspective, not ours. It is like the prayer of Jesus in the garden a prayer of deep submission to His perfect will and an invitation to Him to use our lives for His deepest and greatest purposes. That is BOLD prayer. And BOLD faith.
Are you willing to pray boldly for His will to be done? Do you trust His goodness enough to pray that way? I want to invite you to take that step of ultimate faith and trust right now. Tell Him your need, pray BIG, pray boldly, and boldly invite Him to do His will in your life and situation.