ODJ: large asking

November 6, 2014 

READ: Genesis 18:16-33 

Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession (Psalm 2:8).

John Newton, slave trader turned pastor and hymnwriter, believed in ‘large asking’ when it came to prayers. He encouraged many with the archaic words in this verse from the hymn “Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare”: “Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much.”

His ‘large asking’ was no doubt motivated by people in the Bible who prayed big prayers. Abraham famously pleaded for mercy on behalf of the people of Sodom and the other cities of the plain (Genesis 18:16-33). Moses interceded on behalf of the people of Israel, asking God to erase his name from the book of life instead of destroying the nation (Exodus 32:31-32). Esther, risking her life, came before the king to save the lives of her people (Esther 5:1-8). The apostle Paul prayed that the Romans would experience “complete harmony” and that the “message about Jesus” would be known to all Gentiles (Romans 15:5-7, 16:25-27). He also asked that the Ephesians would be empowered with inner strength (Ephesians 3:14-21), that the Philippians’ love would overflow more and more (Philippians 1:8-11) and that the Colossians would have a complete knowledge of God’s will (Colossians 1:9-12).

In each case God, in His sovereignty, responded with generous grace. He has extended a gracious invitation for us to ask big things of Him. Considering the costliness of gaining access to our heavenly Father (the death of His Son), we should remember and practise the words of Phillips Brooks: “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings.”

—Marvin Williams

365-day plan› Acts 19:21-41

Read Hebrews 8:1. How should it affect the content of our prayers to know that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father? 
How do your recent prayers compare to the requests and petitions made by men and women in the Bible? What will it take for you to bring your largest prayer requests before Him?