Dedicated to two of the leading ladies in my life. : )
Early in 2015, the three of us in our small group were individually at a crossroads in our lives. Something…or someone…was astir, and we could feel it.
In one of our weekly meetings, we found ourselves rehashing the things we’ve learned over the years about prayer. The three of us are type-A, rational-to-our-detriment-sometimes, kind of people. Our natural style of praying lends itself to an attitude of believing God is good and will do whatever he wants, and we are okay with that. When it comes to miraculous-type things like healing, we tend to pray things like, “John Doe is sick. We are sad and would love for you to heal him. In case you don’t, or it takes a while, please comfort and strengthen him, the doctors, his family, etc.” Bleh. Do you sense the complacency?
It always seemed to us that we were praying well that way—with an understanding of who God is, and trusting his will for things. But in our studies over the years, we kept coming across examples of a prayer life that was far more bold than ours were. We wanted to tackle our perspective and figure out how to change it to be more aligned with the truth of prayer and its purpose.
One study finally provided the breakthrough I was searching for, and I think it was for the other two, as well. The study said that when we go to God and ask for something, it is just like one of my children coming up to me and asking me for something. With my fuller knowledge and wisdom, I will choose to give or withhold from my child what she wants. Even if I withhold more often than I give, do I still want her to come and ask me for things? Yes. Do I still want her to communicate to me her wants and needs? Yes! I want her to ask—not because of my answer, but because the communication is integral to our relationship. The more that is asked, the more answers are given—the more she knows me and trusts me. It is the same with God when we pray to him.
Hallelujah! It still gets me excited to realize that.
So, back to early 2015. We’ve reminded ourselves why prayer is important, and how we can be bold and crazy with the things we ask. And that we need to ask without any reservations or addendums or “but whatever you want, I’m okay with” phrases. The one in our group who is great at accountability suggested that each of us pick one huge thing to boldly pray and ask God for that year. She said we should each take a turn right then to pray out loud for our thing.
Because we had been meeting weekly and sharing life with each other for so long, we pretty much knew what our bold prayers were going to be for.
- A baby
- A husband
- A debt-free life
BIG things, right?! The kind of things that we would normally pray lazily about, or in a very meek way, because they seemed like impossible things. Things that were out of our control. Or things that we couldn’t do all by ourselves, so we were at the mercy of his will. Well, of course, his will is ultimate.
But we had to remember that prayer isn’t about the answer, but about the communication with our Father.
So, we each prayed. That first night, two of us especially had a tough time even getting the words out! We were so unfamiliar with straight up asking for such big things—we just laughed at our self-induced phobia. But we finished our prayers, and we promised each other that we would continue to pray for our things, and for each other’s things.
Our things turned into what we affectionately call our BHAPs—our Big, Hairy, Audacious, Prayers. The idea partially came from Jerry Falwell, Sr. and his BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) that he would encourage his students at Liberty University to set for themselves. Almost immediately, we experienced a change in our attitude about the things we were praying for. God was quickly moving in us, shaping us, and teaching us through our bold requests.
By the last month of 2015, God’s “answers” to our BHAPs looked like this…
- Pregnant and due early 2016
- Engaged to be married early 2016
- Three months in a row of not increasing debt, on track to have half gone in 2016
Thank you, God! I think we can all agree that we got what we were asking for.
But we understand that BHAPs do not guarantee God will give what is requested.
The journeys to those happy endings were not easy ones. There were a lot of tears and conflicts along the way, but we kept praying. We learned through each other’s BHAPs. By sharing with each other, we got triple the amount of encouragement than if we were boldly praying alone. What we gained along the way was so much more valuable than the “answers” we were ultimately given.
Now, we are in the first week of 2016, and of course I can’t help but think of what’s next. What is the next big thing in my life? Per one of my last posts in 2015, God had already done so much. Right now, I don’t have any strong indications of what he wants from me, but I know it’s always something. There’s never an end to his refining.
As for my next big thing to pray for in a big, hairy, audacious way…I think I have an idea. But for now, I’m going to keep my BHAP to myself (and to my fellow two BHAPers).