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!

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Comments on: "I Have a Really BIG Prayer Request!" (9)

  1. Here is what i think…

    1. I think we should always ask God for big things. I think if we are not asking for big things, we are essentially doing ministry without him. We need things to happen that are so big that we cannot even try to steal the credit.

    2. Does it line up with Scripture?

    3. yes. Jesus will purify your motives anyway. at least thats what i think and dont feel like going into a 4 page long discussion. ha

    Is it possible God is insulted by our tiny requests? Lets pray something big enough that we have to blame him for it!

    I really liked these two messages from Steven Furtick on audacios faith based prayer. i know some others have done great messages on how to pray, but these really get at the type of prayer you are speaking of. and the sun stand still one is an older one, you can tell he just started the church, he isnt nearly as polished a speaker as he is now.

    http://www.elevationchurch.org/sermons/newthru30/part2

    http://www.elevationchurch.org/sermons/sunstandstill/part2

  2. nikki carrion said:

    Hi Beth,

    Love your blog–timely as usual 🙂 I think that it is okay to ask God for big things so long as we always follow the request with something like “if it be your will, God” . I was thinking of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when he was praying and and he essentially asked God to stop what was about to happen (“take this cup from me”) but then he followed up with “but only if it be your will”. I also think that we have the responsibility of examining our motives before we ask anything of God and that it is also our responsibility to seek God’s will proactively (although for me that is sometimes easier said than done–sometimes I just can’t see it at the time but I have to trust that He knows what He is doing and what is best for me) After thinking about miracles this week, I think it is important for me to remember that even though miracles, or God answering our specific requests, may be blessings to those that are affected personally, they are first, and foremost, for His glory–to show that He is who He says He is and has always been and will ever be. May He be glorified!

  3. What we consider “big things” are not “big” to God, in my opinion. I mean, really… He created the entire universe! We haven’t even reached the end of it yet and we worry about asking him to move mountains in our life?

    The Lord knows what is the best solution for our situation. When we ask Him for “big” or “little” things (in our eyes), I really don’t think it’s the size of the request that matters. I believe it is the motivation of the heart.

    When we are seeking His will in our lives and want to honor Him EVEN in what we are asking for in our prayers, the Lord knows. That is not to say we will always ask for the right things. But here’s what the Bible says:

    Luke 10-13: “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”

    As you ask for what you need or want, I believe the Holy Spirit will guide you. You will know the Father’s heart. Your desire is to please Him. Your desire is to know Him. And that is a good thing! Here’s another scripture:
    Psalm 37:4 (Amplified Bible)
    Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.

    I really believe our Creator wants us to come to Him with the desires of our heart. He already knows they are there. How will we know if He wants to give them to us if we do not ask?

    May you find what you’re looking for in the Lord this day!

  4. Thanks Nikki and Donna! Such great insights from both of you.

    I feel like I am maybe too close sometimes to examine my motives as objectively as I should. That’s why realizing that the Holy Spirit will guide me is comforting. I know that, but Donna, sometimes just hearing it from someone else makes it more powerful. And I agree, Nikki, that the bottom line is that God would be given the glory. Maybe I need to pray and think through that lens more–in what way would God be glorified and in what way would I? Also, it was helpful to remember that what is big to me is a piece of cake to God. I guess that says something about my level of faith! Yikes! Thanks for your thoughts! They mean a lot to me!!!

  5. Carrie Thorpe said:

    Matthew 7:7-8
    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.
    Philippians 4:6
    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God
    1 Chronicles 4:9-10
    Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

    I could go on but you get the picture. If you feel it is a selfish request then ask for forgiveness for being human. We all have wants and we must trust that God knows what is right for you.
    I want a bigger house with more bedrooms and a kitchen table that will seat all of us and then I would love to fill it with more children and let them have more parties. Space is at a premium here! Okay and a pool, hot tub, a lake would be great. Sometimes I think this is selfish but it would be easier and more fun if I had certain things. I love what I do best, is it wrong to dream about it being better.

    1 Timothy 6:9-10
    People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

    So I feel that the bottom line is not what the size of your requests are but where your heart is in the asking.

  6. 35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”
    36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
    37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”
    38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
    39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.
    40″But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” (Mark 10:35-40, NASB)

    I read this passage today and thought it somewhat applied to this. We should probably check our motives out before we ask… we might get extra work put on us and get nothing of what we asked for…

    then again, what did this mean to the original audience? there is more context in the following verses and it probably does not make a specific point to delve into this but rather servant hood. but this is still something that could be looked into. i have no idea if it is right, but interesting, yes.

  7. After thinking through all the comments, praying about it, and talking about it, I do feel like my fear has been that I want something that is “my fantasy” and not God’s. The message at Metro tonight talked about coming to God on His terms. Your insight about the self-seeking brothers, also confirms that I need to surrender my desire to God. If He wants to resurrect it, great. If not, I think I am seeing my true motives for what they are. Thanks for all the thoughts and challenges.

  8. I read this today and thought it might be useful…

    “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7

    It is interesting that Jesus has two requirements listed before he lets anyone ask and receive. 1) remain in him, and 2) remain in his words

    therefore, i believe if you are remaining in those two things, whatever you ask will truly be given.

  9. I don’t think when I begin to pray for something, that is not what God wants for me, that He will give it to me because I follow that formula. I do think that God works through that formula to change my desire if my desire is not according to His will. In other words, He will give me something better than my prayer request.

    I do feel like this post and the responses I’ve gotten from everyone, including you, have helped me to discern God’s will better in regards to this desire.

    Thanks for thinking about it, chewing on it and coming to the table again with new thoughts. I appreciate it!

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