Joel Osteen — Bold Prayers
I want to talk to you today about Bold Prayers. A recent study showed that 90% of people believe in the power of prayer, and we typically pray over our food and ask God for wisdom, for strength, and for health. And that's all good, but there's a part we're missing out on.
We can't reach our highest potential just in our own ability. It's going to take God's hand of favor, opening the right doors, connecting us to the right people, turning around what was meant for our harm. And if that's going to happen, we have to understand this principle of praying bold prayers.
Too many times, we pray get by prayers. "God, help me to get by this year. God, help me to endure this sickness. God, keep my child out of trouble". There's nothing wrong with that, but it's going to limit what God can do. God is moved by our faith. If you ask small, you're going to receive small. The scripture says, "According to your faith, it will be done unto you".
A normal prayer is, "God, help me to pay my bills". A bold prayer is, "God, help me to not only pay my bills, but to have plenty left over so I can be a blessing to someone else". A normal prayer is, "God, keep my child out of trouble". A bold prayer is, "God, let my child become a leader. Let him fulfill his destiny". A normal prayer is, "God, help me to endure this sickness". A bold prayer is, "Father, I want to thank you that I'm coming through this sickness better off than I was before".
If you're going to see the surpassing greatness of God's favor like the scripture talks about, you got to go beyond praying little prayers and ask God to do something big in your life. If you can accomplish your dreams on your own, then your dreams are too small. If you don't have to stretch your faith, you don't really need God's help.
There should be something you're praying about, something you're believing for that goes beyond your natural ability. You can't make it happen on your own, you don't have the connections, the resources, the talent. For it to come to pass, it's going to take the most high God breathing in your direction, making a way where it looks like there is no way. That's the kind of prayers we should be praying, bold prayers.
"Well," you say, "Joel, I have plenty. God has blessed me, I don't need anything". No, that's a selfish way to live. If all of your needs are supplied, ask God for more so you can support a single parent family that's struggling. Ask God to bless your business so you can impact a village in Africa. Ask God to increase you so you can advance his kingdom. Don't just think about me, my four, no more. Have a bigger vision. And God said in psalm 81, "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it".
My question is, how wide is your mouth open? What are you asking for? Are you praying bold prayers, or are you praying get by prayers? However wide your mouth is open, that's what God is going to fill. And if you have a small vision, "Joel, I come from the wrong family. I've had a lot of bad breaks. I should've gone back to college. I'll never accomplish my dreams," can I tell you your mouth is barely open? That's going to limit what God can do. It's not up to God, he has all power. It's up to you. And if you'll open your mouth wider and start praying bolder prayers, asking God to bring your dreams to pass, then you'll see God's goodness in a new way.
I was talking to a college student, and she was about to take a very important final exam, and she said, "Joel, would you pray that God will help me to make a C on this test"? And I kind of laughed like you did. I said, "Why wouldn't we want to pray that God will help you to make an A"? She said, "Oh, all I ever make in this subject are C's".
And that's what happens, we get conditioned in our mind, "This is the way it's always going to be. This is what I make. This is where I live. This is my level of talent". We're just looking at things in the natural. We have to remember we serve a supernatural God. If you'll open your mouth wider, God will fill it.
We prayed that she would break through and make an a. She went home and studied, she prepared, she did her part. And a few weeks later, she came back beaming with joy, holding those test results. For the first time, she made an a in that subject. And if you will break out of the rut and start praying bolder prayers, you're going to have some of these first times.
For the first time, you have an abundance, you're not struggling. For the first time, your child's making good decisions. For the first time, there's somebody in your life to love. You're not just talking about the dream, you're living the dream. Take the limits off of God. Stop asking for a c and start asking for an a. Stretch your faith.
God wants to do something new in your life. He wants to give you the secret petitions of your heart, the things that you dream about, but you've never told anyone. You would love to start a business, love to take a missions trip, love to get married, love to own your own home, but it seems so unlikely, so far out of reach.
If you told your friends, they'd probably laugh, they wouldn't understand it. That's okay, you don't need their approval. This is between you and almighty God. In your quiet time, when nobody else is around, you need to be bold and start asking for those hidden dreams, for the promises God's placed on the inside.
God doesn't want you to go through life lonely, not fulfilled, never accomplishing your dreams. And when you ask boldly, you're not being selfish, you're not being greedy. You're releasing your faith. You're saying, "God, I believe you're the all-powerful Creator of the universe, and nothing is too hard for you".
The scripture says, "It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom". That means it brings God pleasure to bring your dreams to pass. Go beyond asking for your everyday needs and start asking God to do something big, something that you cannot accomplish on your own.
Matthew chapter 20, Jesus was leaving the city of jericho, and two blind men were sitting on the side of the road, and when they heard all the commotion that Jesus was passing by, they began to holler out, "Jesus, have mercy on us!" the people around them said, "Hey, be quiet, you're going to disturb him". They shouted even louder, "Jesus, please have mercy on us!"
Jesus walked over to them and said something interesting. He asked, "What is it you want me to do for you"? Well, it's obvious what they needed, they were blind. Anybody could see that. Why would Jesus say, "What do you want me to do for you"? Jesus wanted to know what they were believing. He wanted to know where their level of faith was at.
They could've said, "Jesus, we just need somebody to help us. It's hard being blind. Jesus, we need better shelter, we need a better place to live". No, these two men were bold. They weren't asking for a C, they were asking for an A. They said, "Lord, we want our sight".
Don't you know if you've been blind your whole life, it takes boldness to ask somebody to be able to see? The scripture says, "When Jesus saw their faith, he touched their eyes, and for the first time they were able to see".
Imagine Jesus standing before you today asking the same thing that he asked these blind men. "What do you want me to do for you"? How you respond is going to determine what God does. Now, don't say, "God, I just want to get by this year, times are tough. God, my family's so dysfunctional, just try to help us stay together. God, I don't enjoy my job, but just help me to endure it". Stop asking for a C. Dare to say, "God, I'm asking for a blessed, prosperous year. God, I want to be free from this sickness. God, I want to see my whole family serving you".
It's not enough to just think about it, it's not enough to just hope for it. Something supernatural happens when you ask. It puts a demand on your faith. When you're asked, God releases favor. When you ask, the angels go to work. When you ask, supernatural doors will begin to open.
A friend of mine was sitting next to a young man that grew up in a very poor village in East Africa. Their country was in great famine, they were struggling to survive. At 7 years old, his father was killed. At 12 years old, his mother died. He was separated from his brothers and sisters and sent to live with his grandmother. She was very old and very sick.
So, at 12, he became her caretaker. He would get up at 5 o'clock in the morning and study for an hour. He loved to study, and read, and learn. At 6 o'clock, he would take an hour and a half walk each way to get water. He would come back and make his grandmother breakfast, and then go to the little village school. He got out at 3 o'clock, and he would come home and make his grandmother something else to eat, and then take the 3-hour walk once again to get more water.
In the natural, didn't look like he had much of a future. All the odds were against him, an orphan living in the slum, no parents, nobody to watch after him. But there was something special about this young man. Deep down, he believed that he was a person of destiny, that he had seeds of greatness on the inside.
And every night before he would go to bed in that little mud hut, with nobody around, he would get down on his knees and say, "Lord, I want to go to college. God, I want to have an education. I want to make a difference with my life".
There were tens of thousands of young children living in the slums all around him. Nobody ever got out. But when you pray bold prayers, it gets God's attention. When you ask big, your faith causes the Creator of the universe to respond.
In that country, the children only went to school through junior high. To attend the high school, you had to pay tuition. 99% of the children couldn't afford it. And at 12 years old, one night, he had a dream, and in this dream, he saw himself walking through the village to a house about 30 minutes away. At that house, he met a man by the name of Mr. Stanley, he was from Belgium. And in the dream, Mr. Stanley helped him.
He woke up wide awake. He remembered the dream so vividly down to the smallest detail. The next morning, he took that 30-minute walk through the village and saw the exact house that he had seen in the dream. It was surrounded by guards. He went up to them and said, "I'm here to see Mr. Stanley". The guards were amazed, even shocked. They said, "How do you anything about Mr. Stanley"? He said, "I saw him in a dream".
Intrigued, Mr. Stanley invited him in and said, "Son, what can I do for you? The young boy said, "I want to go to school, but I have no money. I'm an orphan. I live in the slums". Mr. Stanley said, "You go find the best high school you can find and I'll pay your tuition. I'll give you the books, I'll pay for all your supplies. Anything you need, I'll take care of it".
In high school, the teachers noticed what an excellent student he was and how he loved to learn. They got him an internship at the parliament, working underneath the government officials, the lawmakers. They too could see there was something special about him. When he graduated from high school, the government said, "We're going to send you to college in America to study law".
My friend was sitting next to him on a plane. He had just gotten his law degree and was headed back to his country. She said to him, "They have groomed you to become the prime minister, haven't they"? He smiled and said, "What you are saying, ma'am, is true".
Friends, when you pray bold prayers, you never know where God's going to take you. When you ask big, God will open up supernatural doors. He'll connect you to the right people. God will go before you and make crooked places straight. He can even speak to you in dreams. What you couldn't make happen on your own, God can make happen for you. God controls the whole universe. He's not limited by your background, by what country you come from, by your education, by your talent. The only thing that limits God is our thinking.
I'm asking us right here in a new year think big, believe big, start praying bold prayers. God said in psalms, "Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance". As long as your dream is ultimately tied onto helping somebody else, there's no limit to what God will do. When you say, "God, bless me. Give me ideas, creativity, sales, contracts, not just so I can be blessed, but God, so I can be a blessing, so I can make a difference in this world," that kind of bold prayer gets God's attention.
I know this lady, for over 10 years her son put her through hell on earth. He was just rebellious as can be. He was on drugs and he had stolen her credit cards and run up all kinds of debt, and he was constantly in and out of jail, causing her heartache and pain. Most people would've prayed, "God, just keep him out of jail. God, just get him off drugs".
Not this lady. Every day, she would say, "God, I'm asking you to use my son in a great way. God, help him to fulfill his destiny, help him to make a difference with his life". When her friends heard how she prayed, they practically laughed. It seemed impossible, but do you know today, that young man is a pastor of a very successful church, and they have all kinds of programs to help people that were addicted just like he was?
What am I saying? When God says, "What do you want me to do for you"? Don't sell yourself short. Don't pray a barely get by prayer. Do like she did, "God, help my children to become leaders. God, bless my business in abundance". I pray every day, "God, take our ministry where no ministry's ever gone before. God, help us to impact the culture.
"Well, you say, "Joel, that takes a lot of nerve to pray like that. Who do you think you are"? A child of the most high God, handpicked by the Creator of the universe, just like you. Think about Elisha. For many years, he served the prophet Elijah. He was his assistant. Elijah had seen God's favor in incredible ways. He's the one that called down fire from heaven and 400 false prophets were destroyed.
One time, Elijah prayed that it wouldn't rain, and for three and a half years there was no rain. He was one of the powerful, anointed people that ever lived, and when he was getting very old and about to be taken to heaven, he said to his assistant Elisha, "What do you want me to do for you for serving me faithfully all these years"?
Elisha could've asked for something simple, he could've said, "How about a couple weeks off, or how about that new iPad? I really like that". Or he could've said, "My request is that I'd be able to carry on your ministry". No, Elisha was bold. He understood this principle. He looked at Elijah and said, "What I really want is a double portion of your spirit".
He was saying, "I want to do twice what you've done. I want to do twice the miracles, have twice the anointing, twice the favor, twice the influence". Elijah could've looked at him and said, "Boy, who do you think you are? You sure are greedy. You need to be a little more humble". No, Elijah said, in effect, "You just keep serving me faithfully and what you have asked will come to pass".
Do you know the scripture records that Elisha did exactly twice as many miracles as Elijah? But if Elisha would've been timid and thought, "I can't ask that, that wouldn't be right," we wouldn't be talking about him today.
Some of you are asking too small. God has placed seeds of greatness on the inside. He wants you to leave your mark on this generation. You're not supposed to live and die and nobody miss you. Break out of your box. Start asking God for the hidden dreams he's placed on the inside. Well, you say, "Joel, what if I ask and it doesn't happen"? What if you ask and it does happen?
When my father went to be with the Lord and I stepped up to pastor the church people would say to me quite often, "Joel, do you think you can carry on what your father has started"? In the natural, I was intimidated and insecure, afraid. My mind was telling me, "No way". But down in my spirit where God lives I felt this boldness. I would always say to them, not arrogantly but in humility, "I believe I can not only carry on what my father started but I believe we can go further".
That is God's plan. He wants every generation to increase. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that God would take me where he has taken me today. It all started when I took the limits off of God. I didn't even really know if I could get up here and minister but that's what faith is all about. If you can do it on your own you don't need God's favor. But when you step out and you come to the end of your natural ability that's when God's supernatural ability is going to kick in.
I heard a story about a five-year-old boy. He had some pet goldfish that he really loved but for some reason all but one goldfish had died. One day he and his father were at the aquarium and the final goldfish was floating on top of the water totally stiff. The little boy said with great disappointment, "Daddy, he died too". Before the father could respond the little boy said, "Daddy, can we pray and ask God to heal my goldfish"?
Well, this father is a minister. He thought to himself, "I want my son to know that he can ask God for anything but then I'm going to have to explain how sometimes prayers don't get answered, on and on". This debate was going on in his mind. Finally he quit reasoning it out and said, "Son, if you want to pray, of course, we can pray". The next morning, early, the father heard this very enthusiastic, "Yes"! Coming from his son. He went in to see what the excitement was about. The little boy said, "Dad it worked. The fish is just fine". He was swimming through the water as healthy as could be.
The dad nearly passed out. The father already had his defeat speech lined up, "Here's why it didn't..". He threw that speech away and said, "Son, with God all things are possible". It even amazed the dad.
See, when you pray God doesn't say, "Make sure it's practical. Make sure it's logical. Make sure it's reasonable. Make sure you can figure it out". No, he simply says, "Believe. Stay in faith". That's what allows God to do amazing things.
There was an Asian woman that came up with a new concept for water purification. She had worked on it for years and had researchers and scientists come up with tests and formulas. She got it right where she wanted it and had it patented. Now she was going to different banks in Asia to try to get funding but the economy was very down. She was turned down again and again and again.
Finally at one bank the executive really liked her invention. He loved the presentation but he just wasn't willing to take the risk. He said kind of jokingly, "I'll make a deal with you. If the stock market goes up tomorrow I'll give you the loan". Well, the stock market had been down for over a year. He didn't know what he was getting himself into.
This lady went home and began to pray. She said, "God, you heard what he said. Let the stock market go up tomorrow so my dreams can come to pass". The next day for no reason the stock market shot up. The brokers, the analysts, they couldn't figure it out. They were scratching their heads. Of course, she went right back to him and said, "Hey, are you going to keep your word"? He loaned her the money. That company ended up taking off and today she is one of the wealthiest people in all of Asia. She gives generously to support ministries and to help other outreaches where people are in need. Well, you say,
"Joel, you mean to tell me you think the Asian stock market went up because one lady prayed"? Listen, I'm a believer and not a doubter. You can call it luck, a good break, a coincidence. I call it the favor of God. When you pray it moves the hands that rule the world. Open your mouth wide and God will fill it.
I learned this principle from my parents. When I was growing up my mother would pray about anything. If the car wouldn't start she would pray over the radiator. In the house I would hear her casting the devil out of the dishwasher. She knew no shame. She would pray over the vacuum cleaner. In one sense, those things didn't really matter.
But when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1981, that did matter. She used that same boldness to ask God to do what medical science could not do. Today, more than 30 years later, she is still alive and healthy. Could it be that you're missing out on God's best because you're not asking? You think, "It's too big, not practical, not reasonable". The scripture says, "You have not because you ask not. Start praying bolder prayers".
When I was younger our family knew a gentleman by the name of Casey. He moved houses for a living. He was an unusual man. He would believe God for anything. One day he and his crew were driving down the road and they had this big house on the back of their huge platform. It took weeks of preparation. They had to get permits and raise the power lines and shut down streets. It was a big, big deal.
They had traveled several hours down these country roads and finally made it to their destination. But just when he was about to unload, Casey realized he had forgotten his main chain. Without this chain they couldn't finish. The nearest town was several hours away. If they waited that long they would run out of daylight. But Casey understood this principle. He knew how to pray bold prayers.
He called his crew together and said, "Men, we're going to pray and ask God to give us a chain". They began to laugh. They said, "Casey, come on now. We're out here in the middle of nowhere. What do you think God is going to rain down a chain from heaven"? He said, "I don't know but at least we're going to ask". He said, "God, I've committed my life and my business to you. I'm asking you to somehow, someway, give us a chain so we don't have to waste a day and come back out here tomorrow".
They were standing on the side of this country road and just right in front of them there was a sharp curve in the road. About fifteen minutes later as they were contemplating what to do next this old beat up pickup truck came barreling down the road going much faster than it should. It had its tailgate down. When it took that sharp curve in the road a huge chain slung out of the back of the bed, slid across the road, curled up right at Casey's feet. He picked up his chain and said, "Here's my chain, men. Let's go to work".
The scripture says, "Is there anything too hard for the Lord"? Let's take the limits off of God. Let's start praying bolder prayers. Start asking God for unusual things, not just your everyday needs. Dare to ask God to bring your dreams to pass. Ask him for the hidden petitions of your heart. Ask him even when it looks impossible. God is saying, "What do you want me to do for you"? Some of you are asking for a C. God is saying, "Start asking me for an A". Have a bigger vision. Stretch your faith. That's what allows God to do amazing things.
If you will pray these bold prayers, like Casey, you're going to see God show up and make a way when it looks like there is no way. Like that Asian woman you're going to see the surpassing greatness of God's favor. Like Elisha, you're going to see a double portion. You're going to accomplish more than you thought possible. I believe and declare you will fulfill your God-given destiny. 2018 is going to be an amazing year of faith, favor and victory for you. In Jesus' name.