I was recently challenged with the thought that maybe my prayer isn’t as radical as it should be. When I pray, do I pray with total expectation and confidence? Do I pray big, or do I pray safe?
Last week, my coworkers and I had a cool conversation about prayer. We were talking about biographies and testimonies we’ve read where God answered prayers in insanely miraculous ways- Christians who experienced an undeniable presence of God in some way. We ended the conversation expressing our wish that God would reveal himself that way to our teens at The Cellar. Then we realized…He could! He is more than able!
Maybe it’s just our unbelief and fear of having totally radical faith that’s holding Him back.
I walked away from that conversation feeling a mix of emotions: regret for limiting God with my prayers, disappointment over my fear, excitement over the possibilities, and hope in the power of prayer.
In Hebrews 11:6 it says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” The big question in my mind was where do I go from here?
This was God’s answer to me:
Radical Faith reaps Radical Prayers.
What does it mean to have radical faith?
“Faith is being assured, certain, of what you cannot see. Faith is nothing more, and also nothing less, than trusting in the character and the promises of God- to the point that you take action. That’s what faith is.” (Hebrews 11)
I looked at some examples of radical faith in the Bible and in history
- Moses: God called him to a radical step of faith by going back to Egypt to free his people. Despite feeling totally unqualified and afraid, Moses went. In Exodus 33:18 we read him saying to God, “Now show me your glory!” He prayed big, and God delivered- He performed wonders through Moses and declared His power. Moses then brought the Egyptians out of captivity into the desert, where he needed to act on faith that God would provide for them once they got there. He showed us that faith often requires action before results.
- Noah: In Faith, Noah built the Ark that God told him to build even though they were in the middle of a drought. Everyone thought he was crazy, but Noah wanted to obey because he wanted to live. He trusted that God would bring rain, and showed his faith by his actions.
- Esther: Esther asked Mordecai and the other Jews to join her in fasting and prayer unceasingly for 3 days. She then risked her life by stepping into the presence of the King, without being summoned, to ask him to spare her people. She took a radical step of faith by allowing God to use her influence with the King to save thousands of Jews from death.
- Nehemiah: He also stepped into the King’s presence risking his life. He took a radical step of faith; aligning his agenda with God’s, he shared what God had placed on his heart. His prayer beforehand was this: “God, give us success. Give me favor in the presence of this man.” God allowed Nehemiah to build a relationship with the King, receive his favor and respect, and then receive his permission to proceed with the plan God laid on his heart. Nehemiah said “I was afraid, but…” This “but” is the important part. Fear is a normal human reaction, but he didn’t let his fear overcome his faith.
- George Mueller: He had such radical faith in God that when his orphanage had nothing to feed the children one morning, he still gathered all of them at the tables and thanked God, in faith, that they would have food for breakfast that morning. Right after the prayer was finished, there was a knock on the door from a baker who had brought them bread, as well as milkman whose cart had broken down in front of the orphanage.
- Elisabeth Elliot: She was an incredible woman of faith. Her husband went to minister to a tribe who ended up killing him. Years later, God called her to minister to this same tribe who killed her husband. In her bibliography, Elisabeth writes about how when God called her to do this her first response was “Yes, but…” and then quickly changed to “Yes, Lord” when she remembered that the answer to any of God’s calls should be yes, having faith that God knows what He’s doing. God used her step of faith in a huge way, as she led this tribe into a relationship with Him!
I ended up coming to the conclusion that God is capable of anything, but He is looking for people with radical faith. Ordinary people, but people whose hearts are totally surrendered in faith to Him.
Here are some things He laid on my heart as I asked Him to show me how to have more radical prayer.
- Remember what God has already done in your life. Write down all of the prayers He’s already answered. Then look at incredible prayers He’s answered in the Bible, in history, or even other people in your life. Become aware and in awe of God’s power. See what He has already been doing and realize that He is capable of so much MORE.
- Embrace God’s promises wholeheartedly; pray promise-centered prayers. Ask God to deliver on His promises throughout the day: opportunities to share His love, supernatural strength, joy, peace, spiritual protection, etc. Starting with the “small” prayers is what leads to praying bigger prayers. When we have confidence in God’s answers to our small prayers, our faith will increase to pray big prayers.
- Become totally raw, broken, and honest before God in prayer. Pray what’s on your heart, and do so with total sincerity. Pray your “big prayers”. Maybe you’re praying for a loved one who’s unsaved, for God to give you a job so you can provide for your family, or for God to break the hold that a sin has over your life. If you’re struggling with trusting that God can answer this prayer, then tell Him. Ask Him to take away your unbelief and increase your faith. We see in Luke 17 that even Jesus’ apostles struggled with this and said to Him, “Lord, increase our faith!” Continue to pray over and over, ask others to join you in praying, and consider fasting in prayer.
And now for the point that brings you to radical prayer…believing that God will answer! Just like the examples of heroes of faith listed in the Bible and throughout history, we need to put our faith into action:
- Prepare for answered prayers. Thank God in advance for answering prayers, even if it’s not always the exact way you imagine in your mind. Allow God to work His answers through you. What does that mean? If you’re praying for something, such as for God to reveal Himself to someone in your life, you better believe that He will likely use you as a part of answering that prayer! You can’t pray a prayer of faith but then not display that faith in action. In James 2:17 we read, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” If you pray for opportunities to share God’s love with someone that day, intentionally seek out opportunities. If you pray for revival or awakening in your church, prepare yourself for the answered prayer by already equipping yourself to disciple and mentor those new believers. If you’re praying for someone in your life to encounter God, bring the love of Jesus to him or her yourself!!
Radical Prayers reap Radical Results
I’m not going to pretend that I’ve perfected this or have all the answers. It’s something I’ve identified that I need to work on myself. All I know is that God talks about prayer a lot throughout the Bible. We sometimes overcomplicate things in our minds. We try to have answers for everything. God tells us time after time again to pray in faith, and that He will answer. He doesn’t tell us how He will answer, or when He will answer- just that He will answer according to His own wisdom, which is completely beyond our understanding.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
I want to challenge you to ask yourself the same question that I did: do I pray big, or do I pray safe?
I hope that you will join me in this prayer:
Lord, I pray that you would increase my faith in you. I desire to have such a radical faith that it translates into me having radical prayers. I want you to take away my doubts and replace them with total faith that you are capable of doing immeasurably more than I can ever imagine. Spirit, lead me to a place where my trust is without borders. I don’t want to place limits on what you’re capable of anymore. I want to pray what you desire me to pray, and go where you desire for me to go. Show me areas of my life where I need to apply this radical faith. As I rest in your presence, strengthen my faith. Amen.
Are you interested to read more? Here are some passages that discuss faith, prayer, and ways God used people with radical faith :
- Hebrews 11
- Luke 17:5
- Romans 10:17
- James 2:17-22
- James 1:2-8
- Mark 11:22-24
- Psalm 17:6
- Psalm 142:7
- Judges 6
- Joshua 2
- Matthew 26:42
- 1 Samuel 17:37-50