I usually pray for small stuff. You know, small stuff. I ask for help out of a jam that I have gotten myself into, or I look for divine intervention in a business transaction going south. When I pray for others, I am afraid that all too often I approach God with a generic request. I ask that He would "help so and so" in their time of need. Rarely do I get specific about the true needs of the person. Going down the laundry list of requests from last week’s Sunday School class, I mouth the words without applying any passion. And then I complain when nothing of significance happens.
I thought that I was teaching my kids to pray when we would circle up every night before going to bed. But I have learned more from listening to them pray than I have taught them. Our family knows a missionary that often travels overseas to fund special projects. Due to our personal relationship with this gentleman, we have made his journeys one subject of our nightly prayers. Here is an example of a typical night’s prayer:
Dad: Dear Heavenly Father, please allow Mr. Michael safe travel to and from Turkey and give him wise words to say.
Five-year-old daughter: Dear God, all the people in Turkey need Jesus real bad, and Mr. Michael can tell them. Please save the Turkeys so they can go to heaven.
Cute, right? But look at the two prayers. We were praying about the same thing, but not really. The difference: my daughter goes BIG when she prays. In her mind, all of the people in Turkey knowing Jesus is the ultimate goal. And in her mind, God is still big enough to handle that task. He has that kind of influence. If He can flood the earth and create a lot of bread from just a few loaves and make dead people live, then why can’t He save a whole nation? Her only limitation in praying is the reach of her imagination.
Now the cynic in me is pretty certain that God won’t bring the entire nation of Turkey to salvation. Such cynicism says a lot about what and how I view God. My vision has been dimmed by reality and time. I have diminished Him to the point where I think he can provide a safe plane trip but might not be able to spiritually revive nations. I ask God for small stuff so I can avoid disappointment if He doesn’t say "yes" right away. The problem is that going small can suck the passion out of prayer.
I am not saying that God doesn’t care about the little details of our lives. I believe that He does. I think He wants us to talk to Him about the things that concern us, no matter how little. But at the same time, maybe our personal concerns should be accompanied by requests a little more daring. Maybe even unreasonable. We never know what God might do if we merely asked Him to do great things.
Who knows, God might just redeem a country because a 5-year-old asked Him to.
"The things that are impossible with people are possible with God." —Luke 18:27