Joel's Journal

PRAY OFTEN; PRAY BIG

Are your prayers big enough?

We have been trying to teach our son to pray for a while.  He is just a little over 2 years old so his abilities are limited, but we want to teach him what prayer is all about.  We want him to get used to praying.

Right now he can say, “Dear God, thank you for momma, daddy, amen.”  Still working on being thankful for food, and praying in Jesus’ name.

This process of teaching him got me thinking more about how we pray and what we pray for. Right now our son is only capable of small prayers.  This makes sense because his understanding is small. His world is small.  His friend circle is small. His toys are small.  His desires are small… usually “Cheese Its.”  Complex dreams and thoughts are still well beyond his grasp.  

Unfortunately, I’m not always sure that our adult prayers are big enough.  We pray for our food.  Why?  It is a good way to pray often. It is a good way to remember to thank the God that created us and loves us.  It is a time to recognize where good things come from.  Praying at dinner is a wonderful habit, but we know that if you pray for too long the hungrier family members may be thinking, “get on with it, I want to devour this meal already!”  

I want to teach my son to pray often and to pray big. I want his prayers to be big prayers.  In order for that to happen I know my own prayers need to be bigger and deeper.

What is the biggest thing that you have prayed for lately?  Think about it for a second.  Are you concerned with the same things that God is? Are you praying for spiritual things or physical things? Are you praying for things that will happen anyway, or for things that wouldn’t happen without God’s help? Are your prayers for self, food, safe trips, and parking spots? Are your prayers for God’s kingdom, salvation, and the world grasping and accepting this incredible message of God’s grace and forgiveness?  Are you praying for Northwest to accomplish something so large that it could only be explained by God?  Bigger prayers are needed…

The 20th century Norwegian pastor Ole Hallesby likens prayer to mining as he knew it in Norway. Demolition to create mine shafts took two basic kinds of actions. There are long periods of time, he writes, "when the deep holes are being bored with great effort into the hard rock." To bore the holes deeply enough into the most strategic spots for removing the main body of rock was work that took patience, steadiness, and a great deal of skill. Once the holes were finished, however, the "shot" was inserted and connected to a fuse. "To light the fuse and fire the shot is not only easy but also very interesting … . One sees 'results.' … Shots resound, and pieces fly in every direction." He concludes that while the more painstaking work takes both skill and patient strength of character, "anyone can light a fuse." 

One of my favorite authors Tim Keller comments on this illustration:

“This helpful illustration warns us against doing only ‘fuse-lighting’ prayers, the kind that we soon drop if we do not get immediate results. If we believe both in the power of prayer and in the wisdom of God, we will have a patient prayer life of ‘hole-boring.’ Mature believers know that handling the tedium is part of what makes for effective prayers. We must avoid extremes—of either not asking God for things or of thinking we can bend God's will to ours. We must combine tenacious importunity, a ‘striving with God,’ with deep acceptance of God's wise will, whatever it is.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

- Pray Often

Matthew 7: 7-12 says: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

- Pray Big