By Lisa Rieck

Praying Audacious Prayers

I’m trying to pray audacious prayers.

Audacious is not a word that gets used every day. It implies a boldness that maybe isn’t always appropriate. Dictionary.com uses such phrases as “recklessly brave” and “recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like.”

That’s a lot of reckless.

No one who knows me would describe me as reckless. But wise mentors and hard situations in recent years and months have challenged me to pray reckless prayers.

The Bible is full of them. Prayers like:

  • “Now show me your glory.” (Moses)
  • “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” (Asaph)
  • “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (Jairus)
  • “Rabbi, I want to see.” (A blind man)

O Me of Little Faith

The truth, though, is that audacious prayers are surprisingly difficult to pray. All kinds of fears and questions surface for me.

  • What if I don’t see God answer? Or what if his answer is no? Is my faith strong enough to survive?
  • Do I know for certain that this big prayer is actually God’s will?
  • What’s my part in answering the prayer? Don’t I need to take some action too?

And it’s not just the praying that’s scary. It’s the surrender required as well. My Control Freak Personality and I find surrender particularly difficult. I would much rather live in the illusion that I do have control over any situation in my life and that there’s nothing me and the Internet—with a little prayer for wisdom thrown in—cannot solve together.

Asking Anyway

But truth in the Bible is changing my prayers. Passages like:

  • Psalm 145, about the Lord’s character: “The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.” (vv. 14-19)
  • Luke 18:1-8, about an unjust judge and a persistent widow who needed help: “Then the Lord said, ‘Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?’” (vv. 6-7)
  • Luke 11:5-8, about someone who needs help from a friend in the middle of the night: “[Jesus said,] ‘I tell you this—though [your friend] won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.’” (v. 8)
  • Luke 11:9-13, about fathers giving good gifts to meet their children’s needs: “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (v. 13)

That last one, if you notice, is not a question. It’s a statement. And it’s planted a refrain in my mind: “How much more!” If even a corrupt judge, a disgruntled friend, and a good (but sinful) father will give us what we need, how much more will our compassionate, generous, perfect Father in heaven—who loves us more than we can ever imagine, who has limitless resources at his disposal, and who delights in giving us good things.

That picture of God inspires me to pray new and audacious prayers in faith: Prayers for salvation for dear friends, for racial equity in my city, for God to use me in his kingdom work. Prayers for healing and freedom and hope.

And if I don’t see him answer at all, or he doesn’t answer the way I want him to? I suspect I’ll discover that praying audaciously is less about his answer and more about the state of my heart. Praying recklessly brave prayers humbles me, reminding me of both my own great need and his great strength. In asking him for big, impossible things, I expect my dependence on him to grow, my willingness to take risks for his kingdom to increase, and my intimacy with him to deepen.

What do you need? What do you want God to do for his glory? What impossible situation have you been afraid to pray for? Let’s be recklessly, reverently bold as we come before our gracious, kind, powerful Father in prayer.

Lisa Rieck is a writer and editor on InterVarsity’s communications team.

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