Prayer, Creativity & Faith

Praying Big


This is a post I wrote for the Praying Big Prayers to Our Amazing God series at Faithfully Following Ministries. They featured 14 posts from my book, InstaPrayer: Prayers to Share—different writers, different perspectives, but all really good. Check them out—because they show you how differently we can all pray, even when starting with the very same prompts. God is cool like that.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

It’s hard to pray big. It’s easier to ask for a quarter than for $25,000, right? That may be true with people, though I’m not sure why we think we can extend that logic to God. But we do. Because let’s be real: “God, let the doctors be wise and compassionate” is a very different prayer than “God, miraculously heal him.”

When we pray small, but the outcome is good, it’s simple enough to convince ourselves that God was behind it. To overlook the possibility that what happened was simply coincidence or Mother Nature. It sounds so much better to say that God did it.

I used to open myself up, wide open, to God. I laid my heart bare and gave Him the key to my soul. I prayed for miracles. I expected supernatural results. And then my mom died. And my dad died. And my father-in-law died. My daughter has battled severe migraines for over 10 years. My son had a terrible senior year full of big health things and lots of other trials. I watched the culture of our country divide into two halves, saw relationships fracture, no longer identified with the majority of Christian leaders and writers. I started to doubt the things I’d always believed.

And now there’s a pandemic on top of it all?!

So right now, this is where I find myself: I’m not certain whether I really believe that prayer will change anything. Because, believe me, I have prayed, and lots of things have continued to go wrong.

How’s that for brutal honesty from the woman who’s written three books about prayer, including the one this series is based on? I hope you’ll read on anyway.

What I’ve noticed is that as my faith decreases, so have my prayers. When I’m praying small, it’s because I’m thinking small and feeling small and believing God is small.

Oh, I can justify it. Because I have been hurt by God, over and over again. God’s answers often have not matched my heart’s desire. The pain of disappointment and grief is huge, and the sense of betrayal is real (even if God didn’t actually betray me). And even if my head understands that, my heart does not. What if I allow myself to feel hope, to believe that something is possible, and then it doesn’t happen? I’ll be crushed, and I don’t know if I can recover from that. I don’t think I’m strong enough. Maybe I don’t have enough faith. A tiny voice inside me adds on even deeper fears: Maybe God isn’t as good as you thought He was. Maybe He doesn’t care.

On the other hand, I still want to believe. Oh, how I want to believe. I want to go back to those trusting days when I would feel power rise up inside me as I prayed. When I couldn’t get enough of spending time with Him. When I knew, just knew, that God heard me. That He would answer me. And that if the answer didn’t match what I’d asked for, it was because He knew best. His answers would always ultimately be good, and true, and just. Because He loves me so very much—and He loves all of us, and my story is just part of the biggest story of all, HIS.

The two sides of myself war with each other daily. Some days I can’t bring myself to trust God, and some days I do. Through it all, I somehow still believe that He is faithful, and that He will bring me through this. But I’ve noticed that even when I turn to God, I do so cautiously, because I don’t believe He will give me what I want.

And in that last paragraph lies the fundamental flaw in my thinking. Prayer isn’t about getting what I want. It’s about leaning on God. Trusting Him never to leave you, no matter what path He takes you down.

I think the size of our prayers is commensurate with the size of our belief. Do we believe God is big enough, strong enough, able enough, kind enough, compassionate enough, gentle enough, to really address the problem? Is His grace big enough? Is His kingdom eternal enough? I think God seems to appear most visibly and tangibly to those who have the gall to believe big. To pray big.

God’s grace is always greater than my mistakes. His compassion is always larger than my heartbreak. His love is always stronger and more far-reaching than I can stray. He is the Creator, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. He really can do anything.

One night in prayer, months after losing my mom and holding myself apart from the Lord, I felt Him whisper to me: I can’t be your balm unless you offer me your wounds.

So here I stand today, looking Him in the eye, feeling brave. I will ask big. I will tell Him what I need, and I will believe that He is able, and willing, to accomplish it. That His love for me—and for you—is without limits. And that the big things are no harder for Him than the small things. I don’t believe God causes most of the things that hurt us, but I do believe He longs to comfort us when they occur. He tells us to come. To draw near. To keep praying, to keep asking… and even to sit in silence when we’re out of words and let the Holy Spirit intercede for us.

When we stop believing that God can do big things, we often don’t notice the huge things He does do. And I don’t know about you, but I want to see the miracles and the triumphs and the outpouring of love that ONLY GOD is big enough and good enough to perform.

Pray with me. Yes, Lord, sometimes a problem is big. But you are bigger. Yes, Lord, it’s scary to be vulnerable, to risk disappointment. But you have conquered fear. I will trust in You because I know Your character, and I believe in Your love. Amen.

2 Responses to “Praying Big”

  1. Kelly G says:

    Kelly, I really loved this, so much of it hit home. Thanks for your honesty, and your encouragement to press on.
    Kelly 🙂

  2. Kelly O'Dell Stanley says:

    Thanks, Kelly! <3

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