I’ve always been afraid to ask God for something that is really, really big. But I recently listened to a great message on asking God for really big things from Andy Stanley, the pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta,* and it is making me rethink my usual hesitations.
The reason I’m afraid to ask God for something really big is not because I don’t think He can deliver. He’s a big God and I know He can do whatever He wants. The problem for me is that I don’t want to tell Him what He should or shouldn’t do. I don’t want to assume that what I want is what He wants. And I’m afraid that if I have a really big request—something that would take a miracle—then I’m deciding for God what I think He should do for me. And it makes me feel like a spoiled child demanding a personal concert with Miley Cyrus while I ride on a purple pony! (Isn’t that what most spoiled little girls want these days?) I think I get this notion from James 4:2b-3, which indicates that God will not give us what we want if we ask with improper motives:
“You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (NIV)
Andy Stanley took his text from the parable Jesus told in Luke 11:5-13. When I look at that passage, I think God wants me to persist in whatever I’m asking Him for, but does that mean that God wants me to ask for big things? If I look over in Matthew 17:17-21, I see Jesus challenging his disciples to increase their faith, saying:
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.” (NIV)
That’s certainly asking for something big! But how do any of us know if a big request is or isn’t selfishly motivated? After all, most prayer requests have some personal benefit, therefore, selfishness is present, right? So is it the amount of selfishness that makes a request invalid? And should we ask anyway, knowing there’s a built in safe-guard, because God won’t give us a request that is out of selfish motives?
Anyone care to share your thoughts on this subject? I’d really like to know what you think! So tell me:
- When do you think we should ask God for really big things?
- How do you know if the really big thing you ask for is not out of selfish motivations?
- What if it is somewhat, but not totally selfish, does that make it okay to ask for?
* If you’re interested in listening/viewing Andy’s message, go to http://www.northpoint.org/messages and listen to the Q3 series – “Asking Big.” You won’t be disappointed, I promise!