Joel Osteen — Ask Big
I wanna talk to you today about asking big. When God laid out the plan for your life, he didn't just put what you need to get by to survive, to endure. He put more than enough. He's a God of abundance.
And we see this all through the scripture. When Jesus multiplied the little boy's lunch: five loaves of bread and two fish, after thousands of people ate, there were 12 baskets full left over. And what's interesting is they had counted the people beforehand. Jesus knew how many were in the crowd that day. If he wanted to be exact, he could've made it where there would be no leftovers. On purpose, he made more than enough. That's the God we serve.
David said, "My cup runs over". He had an abundance, more than he needed. Yes, we should thank God that our needs are supplied. We should be grateful that we have enough, but don't settle there. That's not your destiny. He is a more-than-enough God. He wants you to have an abundance so you can be a blessing to those around you.
And this is where the Israelites missed it. They had been in slavery for so many years, that they became conditioned to not having enough, to barely getting by. And when Pharaoh got upset with Moses, he told his foremen to have the Israelites make the same amount of bricks without the hay and straw bein' provided for them. Now, I'm sure the Israelites prayed, "God, please, help us to make our quotas. God, please, help us to find these supplies that we need".
They prayed from a slave mentality, from a limited mindset. Instead of asking to be freed from their oppressors, they were asking to become better slaves. Instead of prayin' for what God promised them, the land flowing with milk and honey, they prayed that God would help them function better in their dysfunction. Are you askin' today to become a better slave? Are you asking for the abundant, overflowing, more-than-enough life that God has for you? God says you are to reign in life, that you are blessed and you cannot be cursed, that whatever you touch will prosper and succeed. Don't pray to get by, to endure. Dare to ask big. Ask for what God promised you.
The medical report may not look good. That's okay. There's another report. "God, you said you would restore health back to me. You said the number of my days, you will fulfill". Maybe you've gone through a disappointment, a bad break. Don't pray, "God, help me to deal with this loneliness. God, help me to put up with this depression". That's a slave mentality. Turn it around. "God, you said you would give me beauty for these ashes, joy for this mornin', that you would pay me back double for this unfair situation". Or your dream may look impossible. You don't see how it could work out. "God, you said your blessings would chase me down, that I'm surrounded by favor, that goodness and mercy are followin' me, that you would give me the desires of my heart".
Take the limits off of God and ask big, not from a slave mentality, not a limited mindset. Don't ask God to help you function better in your dysfunction. Ask him for your dreams. Ask him for new levels. Ask him for explosive blessings. Ask him to propel you into your purpose.
This is what a lady I know did. She has four small grandchildren that she ended up having to raise. She wasn't planning on it. Somethin' happened with her daughter. At first, she was a little discouraged, not knowin' how it was going to work out. Three of these children were in private school. It was very expensive, and this grandmother didn't have the extra funds.
She could've prayed from a slave mentality: "God is not fair. I'll never be able to really provide for my grandchildren. Just help us to survive". Instead, she had this boldness to ask big. She said, "God, I don't have the funds to keep my grandchildren in private school, but I know you own it all. You're a God of abundance. And, God, I'm asking you to make a way, even though I don't see how it could ever happen".
She owed a small amount for them to finish that first year. She went up to the school to pay, and the secretary called up her records on the computer and said, "No, you don't owe anything. Everything's all paid up". She said, "That couldn't be. I have the notice right here. This says that I owe this amount". Secretary turned the monitor around and said, "No, ma'am, it says right here all three of these children's tuitions have been paid, not only for the rest of this year, but all the way through the eighth grade. An anonymous donor stepped up, prepaid it for years to come".
Friends, God can make things happen that you could never make happen. He's already placed abundance in your future. He's already lined up the right people, the breaks you need, doors to open that you could never open. My question is, "Are ya asking big"? Or are you letting your circumstances: how you were raised, what somebody said, talk ya out of it?
If you go through life only prayin' "Barely gettin' by" prayers, you'll miss the fullness of your destiny. But when you get this in your spirit, that the God who breathed life into you, the God who called you, set you apart, crowned you with favor is a more-than-enough God, an abundant God, an overflowing God, then you'll have this boldness to ask for big things: not to just manage the addiction, but to be free from the addiction; not to just pay your bills but to be totally out of debt so you could be a blessing to others; not to just see your child get back on the right course, but that God would use him to make his Mark in this generation.
Matthew chapter 20: Jesus was walkin' through a town, and there were two blind men on the side of the road. When they heard all the commotion, they started shouting, "Jesus, have mercy on us"! Jesus walked over to them and said, "What is it that you want me to do for you"? Seemed like a strange question. It's obvious what they needed. They were blind. Why did Jesus ask them? He wanted to see what they were believing.
They could've said, "Jesus, we just need some help out here. We're blind. We just need a little better place to live". If they would've asked from a limited mentality, it would've kept them in defeat. Instead, they asked big. They said, "Lord, we wanna see. We want our eyes to be opened". They were sayin,' "We know you can do the impossible". When Jesus heard their bequest, he touched their eyes, and instantly they could see.
God is askin' us the same thing he asked those two blind men: "What is it that you want me to do for you"? Now, how you answer is going to have a great impact on what God does. Don't say, "God, I just wanna make it through this year. Have you seen the price of oil"? "God, my family's so dysfunctional. Just help us to survive". "God, I don't like my job. Just help me to endure it". That is going to limit your destiny. Do like these blind men. Dare to ask big. "God, I wanna be free from this addiction". "God, I wanna meet the right person". "God, I wanna see my whole family serve you". "God, I wanna start my own business". Ask for your dreams. Ask for things that even seem impossible.
James chapter 4, the scripture says, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss". That word "Amiss" in the original language means "Sick, weak, miserable". When we ask to become better slaves, that's a sick prayer. When we ask to get by, to endure, to barely make it, that's a weak prayer. That's asking amiss. God is sayin', "I created the whole universe. I own it all. Don't come to me with a sick prayer, a weak prayer, askin' me to help ya live better in mediocrity, endure the trouble, survive another month. No, when you come to me, ask big, knowin' that I'm a God of more than enough". He's sayin', "Ask me to show out in your life. Ask me to heal ya from that disease. Ask me to accelerate your goals".
When ya ask big, God calls that a healthy prayer. That's when he says to the angels, "Go to work. Release my favor. Loose those chains. Open up some new doors". "Well, Joel, I'm just prayin' that I'll make it through these tough times. Business is really slow". Can I say this respectfully? That's a sick prayer. That prayer has the flu. That prayer is depressed. "But I'm just prayin' that I'll learn how to manage this addiction. Grandmother had it. Mother had it. Now I do too". That's a weak prayer. Your attitude should be, "God, this addiction keeps getting passed down in my family line, but I believe this is a new day that you've raised me up to put a stop to it, that I will be the one to break the generational curse and start the generational blessing".
Don't ask to become a better slave. Ask to be the difference-maker. Ask to set a new standard. When you say, "God, help me to get that scholarship so I can go to college," that's not just bein' hopeful, just bein' positive. That's your faith bein' released. That's what allows God to do great things. Or "God, I don't have the funds for the building project just yet, but, Lord, I wanna thank you that opportunity is headed my way, that blessings are chasin' me down". No more sick prayers. Take the limits off of God. Ask big. This is the year for God to show out in your life, to accelerate his goodness, to propel you into your destiny.
This is what a man did in the scripture by the name of Jabez. His name literally means "Pain, sorrow, suffering". Every time someone said, "Hello, Jabez," they were sayin' "Hello, trouble". "Hello sorrow". "Hello, pain". They were prophesying defeat and failure. You could imagine how he could've let that keep him in mediocrity, make him feel inferior, insecure.
There was something different about Jabez. Despite his rough upbringing, despite what people labeled him, he looked up to the heavens and said, "God, I'm askin' you to bless me indeed". He could've just said, "God, bless me". That would've been okay. But he had this boldness to ask big. And here's a man that was supposed to have trouble, heartache, live depressed, defeated, but he shook off the slave mentality. His attitude: "It doesn't matter what people said about me. It doesn't matter what my circumstances look like. I know I am a child of the Most High God".
He went on to say, "God, enlarge my territories". He was saying, "God, help me to go beyond the norm. Let me see abundance. Let me see more of your favor". I'm sure thoughts told him, "Jabez, God's not gonna bless you. You come from the wrong family. Your own parents labeled you 'sorrow, pain, trouble,'" but people don't determine your destiny, God does. The scripture says God granted Jabez his request. God blessed him indeed.
Like Jabez, you may have plenty of reasons to settle where you are: what you didn't get, what people said, how impossible it looks. The odds may be against you, but the good news is God is for you. He is more powerful than any force that's tryin' to stop you. He knows how to make up for what ya didn't get. He can thrust you further than you ever imagined, but you have to do like Jabez and pray bold prayers.
Ask in spite of what the circumstances look like. Ask in spite of what people are tellin' you. Ask in spite of what the enemy keeps whispering in your ear. Jabez could've prayed a weak, sick prayer and thought, "God, I've had some bad breaks, had a rough upbringing, God. I'm just asking you to help me to survive". If he would've done that, we wouldn't be talkin' about him today. If you're gonna beat the odds, stand out in the crowd, if you're gonna reach your highest potential, you have to learn this principle to ask big.
God said in Psalm 2, from the message translation, "You're my son, and today is your birthday. What do you want? Nations as a present? Continents as a prize? You can command them all to dance for you". Notice how big God thinks. What do you want? Nations as a present? Sometimes we're prayin' for a $3-an-hour raise. God's talkin' about givin' you nations. We're prayin' for a promotion. God's got a business for you to own. We're prayin' to pay our bills. God's plannin' on blessin' you so you can pay other people's bills. We're lookin' at the five loaves, two fish. God's thinkin' about the twelve baskets full, left over.
What does that mean, "Today is your birthday"? On your birthday, more than any other time, you feel entitled to ask for somethin' out of the ordinary. Normally, you don't want anybody to go out of the way for you, but on your birthday, you think, "Okay, I'm gonna ask for that favor. I'm gonna ask for that new outfit, for that set of golf clubs". You know, over time, as we get older, out enthusiasm may go down a little, but think back to when you were a child. You knew that was your special day. You had a boldness to ask for what you really wanted.
A few months ago, a little boy came up to me out in the hallway. He's about 5 years old, and I see him here all the time. And he came runnin' up, so excited, said, "It's my birthday today"! I gave him a big hug and told him "Happy birthday". And I walked about five steps away, and he came back and grabbed my leg and said it again, "It's my birthday"! "But I know, you just told me 5 seconds ago". We hugged and did it all again like it was the first time.
This happened again and again and again. I could hardly get through the hallway. About the seventh time, he came up and grabbed my leg. This time, instead of tellin' me it was his birthday, he looked up and said, "What are you gonna get me for my birthday"? The reason he kept comin' back is because he felt entitled to a present. He knew it was his special day. God is sayin', "When you pray, act like it's your birthday. Come to me with a boldness. Ask me for what you really want. Don't be shy. Don't hold back. Tell me your dreams. Tell me what you're believin' for. Ask for the secret things I placed in your heart".
When our son Jonathan was a little boy, he liked power rangers. He never asked for that much, but on his sixth birthday, he said, "Dad, I want that new power ranger that I saw on television," you know, a little action figure. We went up to the toy store, but they were out. We drove to another one, and they didn't have it, and another, and another, and another. Normally, I would've given up, but it was his birthday. I didn't wanna disappoint him.
Finally, we found it like an hour away. Took half the day to get this little $14 action figure. But as a father, I didn't mind goin' out of my way. You know, as parents, you'll do anything for your children, especially on their birthday. How much more will your Heavenly Father make things happen for you? Ask him for your dreams. Ask him to turn that child around. Ask him for your healing. You're not inconveniencing God.
"Well, Joel, God's got bigger things to deal with than me". No, you are God's biggest deal. You're the apple of his eye. You're his most prized possession. Just like I ran all over the city to find that action figure to give my son what he was dreamin' about on his birthday, God will move heaven and earth to bring about his destiny in your life. Dare to ask big.
Too often, instead of approaching God like it's our birthday, believin' that he'll do somethin' special, we do just the opposite. "Joel, I can't ask for what I really want. That wouldn't be right. That'd be greedy. That'd be selfish". The scripture says it is the father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Nothing makes God any happier than for him to see you step up to who you were created to be. It says, "Today is your birthday. What do you want"?
Notice, today is always in the present. When you get up tomorrow mornin', God is sayin', "Today is your birthday". Two weeks from now, "Today is your birthday". Seven years from now, "Today is your birthday". Every mornin' when you get up, just imagine God sayin', "Happy birthday, son". "Happy birthday, daughter". Why does he do this? So you'll have the boldness to ask for things that you wouldn't normally ask for.
When I received word that the Compaq Center was comin' available, something ignited on the inside. I knew it was supposed to be ours, but every voice said, "It's never gonna happen. It's too big, Joel. You don't deserve it. Who do you think you are to even ask for it"? Instead of believin' those lies, I did what I'm askin' you to do. I went to God like it was my birthday.
I said, "God, I know this is far out. Normally, I'd never ask for it, but, God, I believe you put this in our path. This is the part of my destiny. So, God, I'm askin' you to make a way, even though I don't see a way".
What's interesting: all of the big things I've ever asked for, I've never once felt like God had said, "Joel, you got a lot of nerve, man. What are you doin', askin' for that"? Just the opposite. Down here, I can feel God whispering, "Joel, I love the fact that you dare to ask big. I love the fact that you believe that I can do the impossible".
And, of course, now, everything I've asked for hasn't come to pass, but the point is, if you'll go to God with childlike faith, believin' that it's your birthday, askin' for things that you wouldn't normally ask for, there will be times that you see God show out in your life in ways greater than you ever imagined.
This is what Solomon did. In Psalm 72, he prayed what seemed to be a very self-centered prayer. He asked God to make him well-known, that his fame would spread throughout the land, that wealth and honor of other nations would be brought to him, that kings and queens would bow down before him. You would think God would say, "Solomon, what's wrong with you? I'm not gonna make you famous. I'm not gonna give you this honor, wealth, influence. You need to learn some humility". But God didn't rebuke him. God didn't tell him he was selfish and greedy. God did exactly what he asked for. Solomon became one of the most famous people of his day. The queen of Sheba came, bowed down before him, brought him gold and silver.
Here's the key. The reason God answered that bold prayer is because Solomon went on to say, "God, if you'll make my name famous, if you'll give me influence and wealth, then I will use it to help the widows, to take care of the orphans, to bring justice to the oppressed, to give a voice to those who don't have any voice". He asked big, not just so he would look impressive, drive the fanciest chariot, live in the biggest palace. It was so he could lift the fallen, restore the broken, help the hurting to advance God's kingdom.
God has no problem giving you influence, honor, wealth, even fame, as long as your dream, in some way, is connected to helpin' others, to makin' this world a better place. And God is raisin' up a new generation of Solomons, people that have the boldness to say, "God, make me famous in my field. Let my gifts and talents stand out. Let my work be so excellent, so inspiring, that people all around me know who I am, not for my glory, but so I can use my influence to advance your kingdom".
Whatever field you're in - medicine, sales, construction, accounting, teaching - I dare ya to pray, "God make me famous in my field. Let me shine. Give me influence". If you're an architect, "God give me ideas, creativity, designs that stand out". Then use your influence to design the boys' home, design the orphanage. You're a mechanic. "God make me famous. Let me be so skilled, have so much expertise that people come to me to see how it's done". Then use your influence to fix the single mom's car, to mentor other young men, teach them how to do it. You're in the medical profession. "God, make me famous. Let me develop procedures that benefit mankind". Then use that influence to help those that can't afford it. There's no limit to what God would do for you if you'll use what he's given you to help others.
One time I was playin' basketball with some friends, and I had to leave early to go to a doctor's appointment. A teammate of mine works in the medical field, and he asked me who I was going to see. I said, "Dr. Price, a friend of mine". He kind of looked up and said, "The Dr. Price"? I said, "No, just Dr. Price. I've known him for 30 years". He said, "Is it the Dr. Price that's in infectious medicine"? I said, "Yes, that's him". He said, "Oh, man, he's the best. He's famous. People come to see him from all over".
I thought, "Man, I should start treatin' him better". But you know Dr. Price does with his, quote, "Fame," his wealth, his influence? He uses it to help needy people in third world countries. Every time you turn around, he and his family are comin' back from Africa. The organization that he started has donated over a billion dollars' worth of medical supplies. They vaccinated millions of children.
A few years back, Toms Shoes gave him a million pairs of children's shoes. Dr. Price never dreamed he would be where he is today. God made him famous. Not TMZ famous, famous in his field. I wonder what would happen if you would dare pray, "God, make me famous. God, make me to stand out so I could make a big difference in this world".
There's a young man that attends here, named Troy. He comes from a single parent family, and his mother has brought him and his brother to church since they were a little child. From the time he was a little boy, he's always had a dream to go to college. In the natural, it didn't seem like this single mom would be able to afford that.
All the odds were against them. But through prayer, hard work, God's favor, good grades, both he and his brother received scholarships. Troy's was to Georgetown University. Not only a scholarship for his undergraduate work but for his master's degree and his doctorate degree. He's studyin' political science. His goal is to one day become the secretary of state of the U.S.
Like Solomon, he's prayin', "God, give me influence. Give me notoriety so I can make the world a better place". A while back, I was drivin' on the freeway. I saw this billboard from the junior college. It's a picture of Troy, and the caption reads, "Meet Troy, our future secretary of state".
Friends, God can make things happen that you could never make happen. He'll make you famous so you can use your influence, not only to reach your goals, so you can help others along the way. Now, do your part. No more sick prayers. No more weak prayers. Get rid of that slave mentality. Go to God like it's your birthday. Ask him for your dreams. Like Jabez, dare to say, "God, bless me indeed". If you'll do this, I believe and declare, like Solomon, God is going to give you more influence, more resources, more notoriety. You're going to accomplish your dreams, rise higher than you ever thought possible, and become everything God created you to be, in Jesus' name.