As 2019 comes to a close and 2020 begins, it is a great opportunity to reflect and think about the past year. The past year may have been the best year of your life, or it may have been the worst. Wherever you are in life, you can make this year the best year of your life. One of the ways you can do that is to start praying. I don’t mean just to start praying a prayer you heard someone pray in church or a prayer someone taught you, I mean to start praying big prayers. Start praying with everything you have, let flow from your heart and your soul and let God know how you really feel. Let him feel your frustration, anger, sadness, or joy. Give it all to Him. Start praying big prayers and you just may start to see a change in your life.
We are going to look at a few examples in the Bible of some big prayers and just how impactful they were in the person’s life. The first one we are going to look at is the prophet Jonah.
When Jonah prayed his prayer, he was in an unusual circumstance. Jonah was in the belly of a fish as he prayed because he was running away from God. Jonah had just thrown himself overboard a ship and God, in his great mercy, sent a fish to swallow him and keep him alive and Jonah prays the prayer of his life. “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead, I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
One of the key moments in this powerful prayer is when Jonah says, “I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’” (Jonah 2:4). From deep in the belly of a fish, after he has been running away from God and his calling, Jonah realizes what has happened and what he has done. He realizes that he has been banished from the sight of God, he’s been running away. But he doesn’t give up there. He doesn’t say “oh well” and hopes to die. He says “yet I will look again to your holy temple”. He will look to the presence of God and for God to be his hope. He prays that he will turn to God and will not turn away as he has been doing. He’s going to look toward God. Jonah realizes that he’s been running away from the answer all this time. He’s been running away from God and now he realizes he must turn back. What a powerful prayer this is and if we pray a big prayer like this today, blessings beyond measure will flow for us in the new year.
Another prayer that is short but powerful is the wonderful prayer of Jabez. His prayer is recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10, “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” We see many things here. First, this prayer actually comes right in the middle of a genealogy of the clans of Judah. The author pauses in the genealogy to record this prayer of Jabez. Second, notice how Jabez did not quietly pray in his room where no one could see or hear him. It says he cried out to God and said these things. Prayer does not have to be formal, quiet, and orderly. It can be as expressive as we need to be to pour our hearts to God and that’s exactly what Jabez does.
Jabez’s prayer is simply that God would bless him. He wants God’s hand to be with him and keep him from harm. He wants to be blessed by God in more ways than he can imagine and he wants His protection and guidance. He wants to be free from pain and harm and suffering. This is a prayer we can all relate too. We just want to be free from all the pain and suffering and agony. We want to be blessed and to be protected and watched over. We all desire and long for these things. Then we see that God grants Jabez’s request. We don’t know what exactly the granted request looks like in detail but what we do know is that God answered his prayer. Jabez cried out to God and God answered his prayer.
If we pray big prayers like this, God will hear our cries and answer our prayers. It may not always be the answer we are looking for or in the time frame we would like it to be but God answers prayers. If you are hurting, pray a big prayer, right now. Pray that something unbelievable will happen and if you believe God can do it, He will do it. God can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”. Pray for big things this upcoming year and God will bless your life.