Sometimes, I have the faith to pray prayers bigger than what I think could happen. But I want to pray bigger and bold prayers more often. I confess that my prayers are often linked and limited to what I consider possible. (E.g. I pray that my cold will disappear when there is a good chance that the body will heal itself). Perhaps I limit my prayers because I don’t want to discourage the faith of others or have my faith overly challenged. I don’t think God minds that sometimes my prayers are so safe, but I do know that God would like me - and you - to be a little bolder in our prayers. A great example of a bold prayer is Joshua. His story tells us that we can pray more audacious prayers and that sometimes, God will even answer them. In the book named after him, Joshua 10, Joshua is faced with a tough leadership challenge. As his success and army grow, others are getting a little uncomfortable about it…especially the Amorites. Five Amorite armies decided to join together to attack Gibeon, a city that Joshua had just become allies. The Gibeons must have felt somewhat nervous, knowing that five of their enemies were ganging up against them. Isn’t it often that way with us, though? Have you noticed how some of the great enemies of our life seem to all attack at once? Gideon quickly and discretely gets word to Joshua, and Joshua gets ready for physical and faithful action! Before we get into the epic prayer scene, though, it’s worth noting that Joshua did three things that helped position him to be able to pray a big, bold, audacious prayer:
1) He decided to honor his promises (vs. 6).
He’d promised to protect Gideon, and even though he probably did not know that he would have to do it so quickly, he fought for and with them as he had promised. If we are going to petition God for big things, we must take responsibility for the little promises that we have made.
2) He decided to give his best (vs. 7). We read that he sent his “best warriors” into battle. When it comes to issues of honor and sacrifice, do we give our best or default to “just enough”? I believe that one of the platforms to have our prayers heard by God is more easily built when we continually give our very best to Him.
3) He was filled with confidence (vs. 8). God had whispered to him that “I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you”. Knowing that God was on his side, as He is one of ours, makes a huge difference as we fight our enemies!
So, after doing these things, the battle commences. Joshua surprises the Amorite armies, throwing them into confusion (vs.10). The battle rages. Still, Joshua’s army is winning… in fact, they even get a little help from God, who sends a vicious hailstorm down, which kills more of the Amorites than Israel did (vs.11). One of the tiny nuggets from this hail storm is that our best warriors don’t even come close to being as powerful as God’s control over the weather.
However, as Israel moves towards victory, it starts to get dark. This isn’t good news for Israel and Joshua. The cover of the night would allow the Amorites to regroup or run away. So Joshua puts his leadership credibility on the line and prays, “Let the sun stand still” (vs. 12). He is asking God to defy gravity and the laws he has put in place so that daylight will remain. Israel will defeat the enemy so that God can get the Glory. Can you imagine praying such a bold, audacious prayer? It would be akin today to praying for someone in a wheelchair to get up and walk or for someone on their deathbed to defy all our medical knowledge. But Joshua prays this crazy prayer, and amazingly, God answers! Verse 13 simply states, “So the Sun stood still”… until Israel had defeated her enemy. There was never a day like it, and there will not be one again (vs. 14).
But… WOW! Joshua prayed an audacious prayer, and God answered. After this prayer happened, there were several results: The Israelites won, God received the Glory (vs.14), and everyone realized that all things are possible with God. Joshua’s prayer makes my prayers seem slight and challenges me to pray with boldness, trust, and faith. I am not perpetuating the notion that if we pray with a little more courage, bravery, or whatever the secret formula is that God will answer our prayers more frequently. However, there is a greater chance of God answering bold prayers if we pray them than if we don’t! I would encourage you to take your prayers to the next level. Maybe you’re not ready yet to pray as boldly as Joshua did, but I suspect, like me, there is another level of courageous, audacious prayer that we can move to.