Start Praying Audacious Prayers by @StevenFurtick

Sun Stand StillThis is a guest post by Pastor Steven Furtick.

A few years ago, I started realizing that I prayed some pretty dumb prayers. Not that I think God needs me to be eloquent or profound when I talk to him. It’s just that a lot of the stuff I was praying was, well, rather pointless and obtuse.

Things like, “God, just be with me today.”

Before you go getting all insulted (because I know you’ve prayed this one yourself), let me say that I understand the heart behind this prayer. And I’m sure God does too. What we mean is that we want to experience his presence and power in our lives. But come on. Isn’t this prayer usually just filler? God fills heaven and earth. Every inch on this planet, and every other planet, belongs to him. And if we’re believers in Jesus, God lives in us in the form of the Holy Spirit. Do we really need to make sure he’s going to be with us?

When it comes to prayer, a lot of us have this standard stuff down. We can string together enough spiritual-sounding words or phrases to hold our own if called upon in public, but we rarely move beyond these safe and comfortable realms of faith.

I’m sorry, but I believe we’ve been saved to do more than that. I believe that God appreciates it when his people pray in a way that’s actually worthy of the God they’re praying to.

If you don’t believe me, check out the prayers from the juggernauts of faith in the Bible. I don’t believe that they’re there simply for us to admire, but to emulate.  They’re recorded in Scripture to set an all-time prayer standard for us. To inspire us to rise up and begin praying in a way that measures up to the God we’re praying to.

People like Moses, who stood in God’s way and prayed that God wouldn’t kill the Israelites after they worshiped the golden calf.

People like Elijah, whose prayer both caused and ended a three-and-a-half-year drought.

People like Joshua, who prayed for the sun to stand still, and it actually happened.

You may push back on this, but I suggest that the prayers of these people are not abnormal. They are not the exception. At least they were never meant to be. The tragedy of our time is that we have taken what was meant to be ordinary and made it exceptional. The only difference between you and me and these juggernauts is that they had the audacity to pray prayers that lived up to God’s character, God’s heart, God’s resources, God’s will, and God’s abilities.

The message of Sun Stand Still is that it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can begin praying audaciously like these people. And you can begin seeing the same kind of audacious miracles that they saw in response.

If you’ll abandon the dumb prayers that we’re all guilty of from time to time and begin praying in with the audacious faith that God has always intended for you.

Steven FurtickSteven Furtick is the Lead Pastor of Elevation Church, an incredible move of God in Charlotte, NC. He is the author of the forthcoming book Sun Stand Still (<== pre-order here). He lives in Charlotte with his wife Holly and their two sons, Elijah and Graham.

8 Responses to “Start Praying Audacious Prayers by @StevenFurtick”

  1. Thanks for the guest post, Steven! Great stuff! I’m about half way through Sun Stand Still and it’s really challenging me to pray and live with audacious faith.

  2. First of all as I start to type this a GOSPEL choir started singing in the background at Sears Holdings Corporation – , coincidence? NOT AT ALL!

    Second – today my verse was from Genesis 18:14 – Is anything too hard for the Lord?..and you’re a pastor, you now that story about old people and babies.

    Point – this is on time and on point in my life and I thank you for the challenge.

  3. Before I say anything, I want to point out that I haven’t read the book, and I know this post is just only a partial sampling of what is contained in the book.

    However, I want to take one of your phrases and turn it around. You said “The tragedy of our time is that we have taken what was meant to be ordinary and made it exceptional.” May I suggest that the opposite is also true, that there are things which we would call “ordinary” which are actually mind-blowingly extraordinary?

    The example which you gave as a “pointless and obtuse” prayer: “God, just be with me today.” Is it ordinary that GOD Himself would be with US, that an infinitely holy God would be with (and in, as you pointed out) a people who rebelled against Him, and whose sin has removed them an infinite distance from Him – that He would sacrifice His own Son to see to it that this could happen? This is not ordinary.

    But because we (myself included) forget Who God is, and who we are (on our own), we forget just how astounding it is that this God would offer to be with and in us, and so the announcement that God is with us doesn’t inspire awe.

    I do get what you’re saying, and I’d like to read your book. My response is coming from the fact that I’m conducting an experiment of sorts, where I’m learning what it is to pray without ceasing – similar to what Frank Laubach did (see my website). Coming from this frame of reference, your post causes me to think three things.

    First, there is a time to be asking for “extraordinary” things – namely, when God moves us to do so, which isn’t all of the time. It’s difficult for me to conceive of praying audacious prayers (as you’ve defined them here) without ceasing, minute by minute. There have always been moments in history when God announced that He was going to do something that we would call “big,” but then there were lots of times when God’s people were just getting along with their business, gathering together, worshipping, serving, and so on. The examples you gave of the sun standing still, the end of the drought, etc., were out of the norm.

    My second thought is that we have to be careful that we don’t impose our human definitions of “extraordinary” on God. It would be extraordinary for me to wake up in the morning and find that I was suddenly built like Arnold Schwarzenegger (from the 80′s), but does God want to do that right now, and should I ask for that? Probably not. It’s also extraordinary for a heart that is fallen from God and which can do nothing on its own except to rebel against God to suddenly turn toward God, though sometimes we don’t realize how amazing this really is. Should I be praying for my unsaved neighbor to turn to God – Absolutely! Should a person who is in abject poverty and who has no idea where his or her next meal is coming from pray “God, please cause an all you can eat buffet to materialize right before my eyes” or should they pray “Give me today my daily bread?”

    …Which leads me to the third thought. The prayer which Jesus gave as an example of how to pray contained pretty ordinary, day to day things: God, be glorified (and of course He is – all the time, but not by all people). Bring Your Kingdom and may Your will be done (count on it). Please provide food for today (consider the sparrows). Forgive our sins (Amazing!) Don’t lead us into temptation (Which, according to James 1:13, He won’t do, so why should we ask Him to not do something we already know He won’t do? It would be “pointless and obtuse,” right? ;) ), but deliver us from evil (Eternally, yes. Temporarily, not always.) For Yours is the Kingdom, power, and glory forever….

    Again, I’m only going off the examples of “extraordinary” given in this post, and these are the thoughts it generated. Since blog comments don’t afford the benefits of you getting to hear my tone of voice and read my body language, please know that I’m not trying to be aggressive. I realize the book probably covers these issues, and I’d be interested to see how you address them.

  4. As I looked back over my response, I realized that I need to clarify something. I absolutely don’t think that you feel that God being with us is an ordinary thing. The first point I’m making is just that for us to ask that God would be with us is not an “ordinary” prayer.

  5. This last Sunday at church, the Pastor talked about exactly the same concept and examples you mention in the book. I thought it was a powerful message and it really struck a cord. So, in this week I thought I’ll try it out – although on a small scale first (hey, it is a growth journey, right?). I had a situation where I was invited to present at a conference, but my employer did not want to sponsor me and I couldn’t afford to pay myself – so I thought I’ll pray and ask if God could provide the money somehow. His answer (question) back to me was why ask for money, why not ask for it to cost nothing? So I asked the organisers if it would be possible for me to only come in for the timeslot that I need to present and then not pay the daily registration fee. The first response back was not too optimistic, but they said they’ll come back to me and see what they can do. Two days later the President of the Institute tells me that due to the good relationship they have with the company I work for, that not only can I present at the conference, but also be at the conference for that whole day – for free! Now, for some of you reading this it may seem small, but how often do we really pray and trust God to come through for us? Maybe more importantly, how often don’t we?

  6. Thanks for the guest post! Just heard Steven speak at the leadership conference at Newspring Church yesterday. We all got an advance copy of the book and I’ve already started reading it. The scriptures say “you don’t have because you do not ask.” What really do we ask God for? Francis gave the examply of him being frustrated at the “giving” to “life comfort” ratio and his church and that he prayed for God to either change their hearts or make him richer so HE could give it all away. Crazy thing, God made him richer and…he’s giving it all away! I want a crazy, audacious faith too! It’s where the action really is!

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