During my holidays in Majorca I got to do a fair bit of reading. One of the books I read was Alistair Begg’s Pray Big. The teaching in this book was nothing particularly ground-breaking when it comes to prayer, but I did find it to be a really helpful reminder of how we ought to pray and what we should be praying for, it was good for my soul. So I’ve distilled its main teaching for us to consider to encourage us to “pray big”
The Nature of Prayer.
Prayer is Dependant
Paul says in 3:14 “for this reason “I bow the knee”
To pray in the first place is to recognise our dependency on God. A self-assured person is not going to pray prayers of petition, there is no need to pray if you think you have it all covered.
Paul achieved great things, few men have accomplished as much or had as great an impact as Paul. But Paul never thought he did it alone. He recognised the direct link between his witnessing and his praying. Paul says “For this reason I bow the knee” Pauls decision to pray is driven by his awareness of his dependence in ministry, and his posture in prayer emphasises his awareness of his dependence. When you and I pray, the posture of our hearts is really important, Are we coming to God in dependence, are we asking him to bless our work, to empower our service, to change our flaws and forgive us our sins?
Prayer is Spiritual and Practical
Perspective matters when it comes to prayer. There are spiritual truths and realities that we ought to be aware of when we pray, the more we are shaped and affected and moulded by the gospel the more this will affect the content of our prayer. You and I have been raised with Christ into heavenly places. You have been made part of a family that will never come to an end. One day you will live in a new heaven and a new earth. You will see your God face to face and, with a heart no longer burdened and distracted by sin, and a body no longer broken and decaying in frailty, you will praise him. If these spiritual realities are at the forefront of our minds they will effect both our actions and the content of our prayers
What to Pray For?
1) Pray for Focus
Paul has just given a hymn of praise assuring the Ephesians of all that is theirs in Christ. Paul Prays that they would see that they are:
- Chosen to be holy and blameless
- Predestined to be adopted as Gods Children
- Redeemed by the blood of Jesus to know that they are forgiven of their sins.
- Brought into the great plan of the father to reconcile all things to himself.
- Been Made Rich. They have an inheritance of eternity with him ahead of them and the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, guaranteeing what is and is to come.
It is possible to pray for focus, necessary to pray for it and infinitel worth praying for it.
2) Pray for Hope
Most of the ways in which we hope is all about uncertainty, “ I hope I don’t Trip” I hope it wont rain” some people would say that true hope must include doubt otherwise it is not really hope at all is it?. But the NT knows nothing of uncertainty when it talks about biblical hope,
In fact God wants us to know the hope to which he has called us. To know this hope is to know the assurance of a reality that you have not yet fully experienced, it is not something that is in doubt. It is something that has been promised by God. It is a secure hope, a hope that breeds confidence, based on fact and knowledge, not feelings. So Paul says, I am praying that you will actually know the hope to which God has called you in Christ Jesus.
3) Pray for Riches
One day you are going to be very Rich. That’s because we have an inheritance ahead of us. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee until we acquire possession of it. Paul prays that we would know what those Riches are, and by know he means experience. Your inheritance is God. We need to look up from our present problems, mistakes, regrets and sadness and look forward to our future inheritance. One day in Glory we will be Richer than we can even begin to imagine. There is something of those riches to be experienced now, beholding Gods Glory (2 Cor 3:18)
4) Pray for Power
Not many of us feel powerful. But Paul prays that we would know the Power of God at work in us. Paul is praying that we would have an understanding of the comprehensive nature of the triumphant victory of Jesus which is available to us, frail clay pots that we are. We are to rest in his promises, live in his presence, pray that we would not just know about, but live in his Power.
5) Pray for Love
We are more sinful than we ever realised, but we are also more loved than we ever dreamed, Pauls prays that the Ephesians would know this love. Allow the love of God to put a spring in your step and supercharge your prayers.
Summary (Pray Big)
Focus, Hope, Riches, Power, Love.
How is all this that Paul prays for and God wants us to pray for supposed to happen? According to the power that is at work in us, not ours, but his, and he is able, Let us pray like that is True.
Alastair’s book can be purchased from The Good Book Company. https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/pray-big