Joel Osteen — Praying God-Sized Prayers
I want to talk to you today about praying God-sized prayers. How you pray will determine what kind of life you live. Ordinary, get-by prayers, most likely you will live a small, ordinary, get-by life. But when you have the boldness to ask God for big things, you ask him to open doors that would normally not open. You ask him to take you further than anyone in your family. When you pray God-sized prayers, you will see the greatness of God's power.
Now, all through the scripture, we see this principle. Elisha prayed that it wouldn't rain. For 3 1/2 years there was no rain. Joshua prayed for more daylight. God stopped the sun. One prophet prayed for protection. The enemy standing right in front of him didn't recognize him. God made him invisible. The common denominator is they asked for the unthinkable.
When was the last time you asked God to do something impossible, something out of the ordinary? One reason we don't see God do great things is we only most people pray over their food, pray for protection, pray for wisdom. That's all good, but it's limiting what God can do. There should be something you're praying about, something that you're asking for that seems far out. You can't accomplish it in your own strength. The phrase I hear in my your dreams may look impossible. You don't have the funding, the connections. God is saying, "I dare you to ask me to bring it to pass. I dare you to ask me to show you a flood of my favor".
A lot of times, we pray, "God, my child's off course. If you'll just turn him around," and that's good, but that's an ordinary prayer. Ordinary prayers get ordinary results. God meets us at the level of our faith. If you ask small, you're going to receive small. A God-sized prayer is, "God, I'm asking you to not only turn my child around, but use him in a great way. Let him make a difference in his life".
An ordinary prayer is, "God, help me to get by this month. God, help me to pay my rent". There's nothing wrong with that, but a God-sized prayer is, "God, I'm asking you to increase me in such a way that I cannot only pay my house off, but help pay somebody else's house off". An ordinary prayer is, "God, just take me as far as my parents. God, help me at least not to lose any ground". But a God-sized prayer is, "God, help me to take our family to a new level. Let me set a new standard. When people look back 100 years from now, God, let them say, 'it was that man, that woman, that made a real difference".
But I wonder, how many of your prayers are not being answered simply because "Well, Joel, God's God. If he wants to bless me, he'll bless me". It says in James 4:2, "You have not because you ask not". If you're not asking big, you are shortchanging yourself. You will never reach the destiny, if you only pray small prayers. Now I'm not talking about just making a wish list and praying every whim. I'm talking about asking God for what he's already promised you.
The scriptures says when you walk in God's ways, you will lend and not borrow. With long life, God will satisfy you. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. There are hundreds of promises that you have every right to pray and ask God to bring to pass. Plus there are specific dreams, desires that God's placed in your heart. They didn't just randomly show up. The creator of the universe put them in you. They are a part of your divine destiny. In psalms, it talks about the secret petitions of our heart. The hidden dreams that you one way you know they're from God is they're so big, you cannot accomplish them on your own. God does this on purpose so that it will take faith.
Faith is what pleases God. Faith is what allows him to do the impossible. So God will put something all the talent, the education, the connections, the confidence. God will even allow certain obstacles that we can't overcome on our own. We can do one or two things. We can think, "Well, too bad. Didn't work out for me. I don't have the connections. I couldn't get the financing," or, "The medical report doesn't look good". We can talk ourselves out of it, or we can say, "God, I can't do this in my own strength, but I know you are all powerful. There's no limit to you. So God, I'm asking you to make a way, even though I don't see a way".
This is what David did. 1 Chronicles 17, God gave him the promise that one of his descendants would always be on the throne. He would have this lasting dynasty. David could have said, "God, I'm just a shepherd boy. I was out tending my father's sheep. I don't have formal training, education, experience". No, David understood this principle. Even though it looked far out, he didn't dismiss it. He said in verse 23, "God, do as you have promised. Let one of my descendants always be on the throne. Had to ask for something so big".
Verse 25 gives us the key. He said, "God, I have been bold enough to pray this prayer, because you have spoken it over me". In other words, God, I'm asking you to do something amazing, not because I have all the talent, education, connections, but because you have promised it. Now what God has promised you, the dream he's placed in your heart, may look impossible. But if you'll just dare do like David and say, "God, you promised it. Now I'm bold enough to ask you for it".
When you do, don't be surprised if thoughts come saying, "It's never going to happen. You come from the wrong family. You've made too many mistakes". The enemy gets stirred up when you start asking God for big things. He'll leave you alone as long as you pray small, ordinary prayers, but when you start praying God-sized prayers, you start asking God to take you where you've never been before, that's when those thoughts will bombard your mind, saying, who do you think you are? Just smile and tell him, a child of the most-high God.
I read about this 7-year-old girl named Jamie. She lived on a farm with her family, and they had a cow that was about to give birth. Her father had already told the family that they weren't going to keep any more cows. Every time one was born, they'd either sell it or give it away. But for some reason, little Jamie really wanted to keep this cow, a desire of her heart. She started pleading and pleading her father. "Daddy, please let me keep it. Daddy, please make an exception".
After a couple of weeks, she wore her father down. He said, "Jamie, I'll make a deal with you. If the calf is born black, then you can keep it. Like the rest of our cattle, we're going to give him away". She agreed. Well, little Jamie didn't know any better. She started praying and praying every night before she went to bed. "God, I'm asking that this cow will be born black", and that there won't be any doubt now, most of us adults, we'd never pray anything like that. That's far out. That's kind of radical. But you know what I've learned? Radical faith gets radical results.
A couple of weeks later, the little calf was born. It was not only solid black, but right between its eyes, do you see it, there was a big J. Her name was Jamie. It's like God stamped it J. He was saying, "I'm going to make sure everybody knows this cow belongs to little Jamie".
What am I saying? When you pray God-sized prayers, God will show up in a big way. He'll give you the desires of your heart. Are there dreams that you've talked yourself out of, problems you're convinced you'll never overcome? Why don't you do like little Jamie? Take the limits off of God. What if the only reason it's not happening is because you're not asking? Jesus said in Luke 12:32, "It is the father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom".
God wants to give you the desires of your heart, but you have to have the faith of a little child and be willing to ask. Ask a father, who would I rather bless than my old children? Who would I rather see increase and do great things? Nobody more than my own children. It's the same way with our Heavenly Father. It gives him pleasure to give you the kingdom. It brings a smile but what if my children never asked and they acted like they were bothering me, they were intimidated? That would make me feel badly. I'd say, "Come on, step up to the plate. I'm your father. Some of you today need to step up to the plate. Quit asking small. Quit acting like you're bothering God.
Quit praying weak, barely-get-by prayers. Your father owns it all. He created the whole universe. If you're going to see the fullness of what he as in store, you gotta learn to ask big. I pray every day, "God, take our ministry where no ministry's ever gone before". I pray, "God, let our children supersede have ever done". There are prayers that I pray in private, never told anybody in the world, the secret dreams of my heart. If I told you, you'd say, "Joel, are you kidding? Do you really think that's going to happen"? The truth is they may but I'm not going to let my lack of asking keep me from reaching my highest potential. I don't want to get to heaven, and God say, "Joel, I had all this for you. Favor, good breaks, divine connections, but you never asked. You stayed in the safe zone. I wanted you in the faith zone. You prayed ordinary prayers. I wanted you to pray God-sized prayers", and I believe one reason that I've seen God's favor is I have learned to ask big.
When my father went to be with the Lord, 1999, I had never ministered before. It was a bold prayer to say, "God, I'm asking you to help me not only maintain what my parents have build, but help me to increase even more". When I walked into a jewelry store and saw Victoria for the first time, it was a bold prayer to say, 'God, let her see how good looking I really am.'" I'm only kidding. I didn't pray that, but I sure thought about it. It was a bold prayer to say, "God, give us the Compaq Center.
When I look back over my life, I wonder what wouldn't have happened had I not prayed these bold prayers. Maybe I wouldn't have met Victoria. Maybe I wouldn't be up here. Maybe we wouldn't have this facility. It says in Psalms 31, God has blessings stored up for those who honor him. Because you honor God, there are blessing right now that have your name on them, stored up. Houses, businesses, ministries, books, movies, children, ideas. They have your name on them. God wants to release them. He's just waiting for you to ask.
Will you have a boldness to ask for things that even seem impossible? It's good to ask for our needs, but I'm encouraging you today, ask for your dreams. Ask for your dreams. Ask for your goals.
I heard a story about a young mother. She and her family moved to New York City back in the 1960s from Puerto Rico. They were very poor. They lived in a rough neighborhood in government housing. Drugs, gangs, violence all around. At the age of nine, her young by a gang. Everybody he knew, all of his friends, were in gangs. By the time he was 12, he was hooked on heroin. He'd already been arrested, involved in robbing, stealing, killing, all kinds of things that weren't good. His mother was so heartbroken. She couldn't control her son. She was a very small woman. She only spoke Spanish, but she was very feisty.
One thing this mother knew how to do was pray, and every day, seven days a week and twice on Sundays, she would go up to the little storefront church there in the projects with her sister, and they would pray for her son, Victor. She didn't just pray for God to keep him out of trouble. This mother knew how to pray God-sized prayers. She said, "God, I'm asking you to make my son a minister. Use him to touch people all over the world".
Twelve years old, Victor would come home totally stoned. This mother would be in the kitchen, waiting for him with her arms held open. She'd give him a hug and say, "Victor, God's hand is on your life. You have a destiny to fulfill. You, he's going to make you a minister". She spoke faith into him. The more she prayed, it seemed like the worse he got. His teacher at school told the mother, "Your son is going to end up in the electric chair". She let those words go in one ear and out the other. She kept praying, month after month.
It didn't look like anything was happening, but what she couldn't see is while she was praying, God was moving on a young man in another state by the name of David Wilkerson, calling him to come to the roughest streets in New York. One day Victor ran into this new young street preacher. Right there on the corner, God touched Victor's heart. He knelt down, gave his life to Christ. God set him free from the drugs, from the gangs, from the violence. Today Victor Torres is not only clean and sober, but he's the pastor of a great church in Virginia. To drug addicts, to gang members. He goes all over the world, telling what God has done for him.
I thought about, where would Victor be if this mother had not dared to pray these God-sized prayers? Maybe David Wilkerson would have never shown up. Maybe he'd be in the penitentiary, even dead. But when it looked impossible, when the odds were against her, every voice told her, "You're wasting your time. Your son's too far gone. He's never going to amount to anything," she dug her heels in and said, "God, you said as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. God, you promised it, and like David, I'm bold enough to ask you to bring it to pass".
See, most people would have prayed an ordinary prayer, something like, "God, just help my child to not get in any more trouble". When you know how to pray these God-sized prayers, your children, your relatives, they don't have a chance. God will move heaven and earth to bring that promise to pass. Now you may have somebody in your life that you are about to write off, somebody like Victor. Boy, they're making bad decisions, look like they'll never straighten up. Keep praying. Keep asking God, not only to bring them back, but to do something great with their life.
I found when somebody is living radically the wrong kind of life and God touches them, they will live radically God will use them to do amazing things. Like this mother, we have the promise as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. It says in Psalms the seed of the righteous. That's your children. Your grandchildren will be mighty in the land, not addicted, defeated, mediocre. No, mighty, powerful, history makers. Over your children. Doesn't matter what they are or aren't doing right now.
Pray God-sized prayers. God, I'm asking that my child be mighty in the land. God, let them be history makers. Let them leave a legacy of faith that will be seen for generations to come. Dare to ask big.
I prayed for a college student right here at the altar a few weeks ago, and she had just finished her master's degree. She studied medical research. She was a scientist. I don't even know why I said it, but I prayed, "God, let her find the cure for cancer. Let her do something astounding with her life". Well, Joel, what if it doesn't happen? What if it does happen? You have not because you ask not.
God is saying, "Ask me for big things. I created the universe. I flung the stars into space. Don't ask me for a $2 raise. Don't ask me to just keep your children out of trouble. Don't ask me to just help you make it through life. Ask me for Compaq Centers. Ask me for cows with your initial on it. Ask me to turn drug addicts around. Ask me for children who will become history makers. Ask me to part Red Seas, to bring water out of a rock, to show you floods of my favor". God is saying, I dare you to stretch your faith. I dare you to take the limits off of me. I dare you to pray God-sized prayers".
A couple of weeks ago, we were in the airport parking lot late one Friday night. We'd just returned home from a Night of Hope in another state. It's about 2 o'clock in the morning. When we got to our cars, my mother's battery was dead. Something must have been left on. My brother Paul and I, and my friend Johnny got the battery cables, and we drove my car up there and put the cables on my mom's car. Her lights came on, the engine wouldn't turn over at all, not one sound. A mechanic came out from the airport to help us. He worked and worked, but he couldn't get anything going, and Johnny was reading the owner's manual. It's like we were missing something. The engine would not turn over. Freezing cold out there.
After about 30 minutes of trying everything we possibly could, Paul said to my mom, "Mother, the car's not going to start. Why don't you just ride with me, and we'll come back tomorrow and get it"? Well, my mother was not about to leave the airport without having her car. She said, "No Paul, I've got two funerals to officiate tomorrow. I have to have my car". It was 2:30 in the morning. I was tired. It was freezing. I said, "Mother, take my car. I'll ride home with Paul. You can drive it right now". She said, "Joel, I don't want your car. I want my car. We went over and worked another 15 minutes, doing everything we could. Still, the engine never turned over one time.
I said, "Mother, we could be here all night. The car is not going to start. We might as well go home". She said, "Give me the keys". Like, do not mess with me. I don't know if she was mad at me or mad at the devil, but she got in that car and started praying, and when my mother really means business, she prays loud. She doesn't need a microphone. She makes sure that God will hear her. I looked over, and my mother was praying over the steering wheel, praying over the radio, casting the devil out of the engine.
When I was growing up, my mother would pray over the dishwasher if it broke. She'd pray over the lawnmower, and I'm over there with some of my friends, getting a kick out of it, kind of laughing, we hear the car crank right up. That engine didn't struggle. It didn't turn over and over. It immediately cranked up. My mother revved that engine so loud, she had to have that pedal on the floor. It sounded like it was going to explode. We ran for cover. My mother put it in gear, and she started driving around in circles eighty years old, doing donuts, 3 o'clock in the morning.
I thought, "Dear God, we're going to get arrested out here". I wanted to say, "Mother, when she finally drove off, she didn't wave goodbye to us. She didn't say, "Thank you for at least trying". She didn't blow us a kiss. She just left us standing there in her dust.
When you face situations in your everyday life that seem impossible, God says, "I dare you to pray. I dare you to ask me for that car to start". Oh, Joel, God's got bigger things to deal with than me getting my car started. Let me tell you, you are God's biggest deal. You are the apple of his eye. Too often, we limit God. We have a small view of who he is. We think God is up there somewhere far away, running the universe. I can't bother him with this small problem. I can only pray if I have some kind of major catastrophe. Listen, God knows the number of hair on your head. He knows your words before you speak them. You are not inconveniencing God by asking him to help you in your everyday life. God wants to be good to you. He wants to show you he's saying today, "I dare you to ask".
I heard a story about a small congregation in the foothills of the smoky mountains. They had just built a new sanctuary on land given to them by one of their members. A month before they were to move in, the building inspector informed them that their parking lot was too small. Unless they doubled the amount of parking spaces, they would not be able to occupy the building. All the land to build on. The only property they had left was behind the sanctuary. It was a big mountain, had a huge hill on it.
The next Sunday, pastor told the congregation there would be a special prayer meeting that night to ask God to somehow make a way that they could move into their new sanctuary on time. Twenty-four people showed up. They prayed and prayed. After an hour, the pastor announced, "God has never let us down in the past, and he's not going to let us down this time. We're going to move into our the next morning, 10 o'clock, there was a knock on the pastor's door. It was a construction foreman. He said, "Excuse me, reverend. We're building a shopping center one county over, and we need some fill dirt. If you will sell us the dirt we'll not only pay you for it, but we'll pave all the areas where we dig up". That little church got their parking lot for free, and they moved in right on schedule.
What am I saying today? When you pray God-sized prayers, God will show up in a big way. Some of you are not seeing God do great things because you're only asking for small things. God is saying, "Ask me to open doors that seem impossible. Ask me for that business you've been dreaming about. Ask me to give you the secret petitions of your heart". You've gotta have this boldness like David, and say, "God, you promised it. I see it in the scripture, now I'm going to be bold enough to ask".
Remember, there are blessings stored up for you right now with your name on them, and if you'll learn how to pray God-sized prayers, then like Victor's mom, you will see your children become mighty in the land. Like this pastor, the right people will show up at the right time. Like little Jamie, God will give you the desires of your heart. I believe and declare you will see the fullness of what God has in store, overcoming every obstacle, defeating every enemy, and becoming everything God's created you to be, in Jesus' name.