Pray Big, Ask Big
For years as a community minister with World Impact, my favorite activity was an outreach to children and teens called “Bible Club,” essentially a liturgy and discipleship time for kids in the city. Starting with 50-60 wriggling, energetic, and surprisingly spiritually hungry children gathering in one of our basements or yards, we sang Bible verses and classic VBS songs with urban vibe. One of those songs, “My God is so big,” began “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” Filled with gestures and mostly sing-shouting, the middle section thundered “The mountains are his, the valleys are his, the skies show his handiwork, too.” Ending with the refrain above, we basked in the depth of that basic yet rich, inner-city youth-club theology. Well done, Bible Club liturgy.
No Christian contests the assertion that God is big. His nature is big: he is eternal, everywhere present, and infinite and boundless in being (Jer. 23.23-24). His salvation is big, effective for all people, being offered to every man, woman, boy, and girl (John 3.16-18; Rom. 1.16-17). His power, strength, and purposes are big: his arm is not too short to save, his plan involves all of heaven and earth (Prov. 16.4), and there is nothing too hard for him to do (Isa. 59.1; Jer. 32.17). He is the God of the impossible (Luke 1.37), the God who is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that is at work in us (Eph. 3.20-21).
If this simple, straightforward declaration of God’s bigness is true, then why do we pray such little, weak, and sickly petitions to God? Why are our prayers and supplications so surprisingly tiny, so restricted and nervous, so calculated and restrained, so non-muscular and fierce? We read of saints of old who asked God for God-sized healings, who pleaded with him for God-sized interventions, begged him for God-sized deliverances and waited on him for God-sized answers. Nothing reflects our basic faith than the size (not the length) of our prayers. It is a truism that those who believe in God truly pray for and ask him for interventions and answers that match his nature and heart. God is neither stingy nor small. Why pray as if he is actually both?
For those committed to seeing lasting, dynamic transformation in the poorest, most dangerous communities on earth, we must start our spiritual journeys and battles with one simple, transparent discipline. We must pray big and ask big. Because he is big, because he can transform anyone, change any community, overcome any trauma or tragedy, renew any heart, we should pray consistent with his nature. Our prayers should match his big-ness; he is capable, and our prayers should reflect that. Begin today, even though you’ll probably feel a little funny to start. Pray big. Ask big. Do Bible Club theology. It’s true to Scripture and to life.