When was the last time you prayed for something so grand that it made you nervous?
I’m not talking about the casual “our thoughts and prayers are with you” empty gestures. No. I’m referring to the kind of prayer request that makes everyone else in your prayer-gathering raise a nervous eyebrow because what you’re asking is so dynamic in its nature that only God could provide it.
Even in matters as simple as the weather.
Take for example, an impending storm threatening floods and damage.
In place of praying like this: “Father God, we just invite you to be with us now. We commit the weather into your hands and ask that you would just give us a beautiful day, Father God. And that, Father God, you would cause this storm, if it’s your will, to bypass us. Amen.”
Instead, you prayed like this: “O MIGHTY GOD OF ANGEL ARMIES IN HEAVEN!! You are ELOHIM, the powerful creator God! You spoke and it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. You spoke again and it stopped raining. In Jesus name, SPEAK TO THIS STORM and command it to disappear over this town! SHOW YOUR GLORY TODAY, FATHER!! In Jesus name!”
Tell me you don't wanna be in that prayer meeting!
Interestingly, I was raised in a Church culture where that was the preferred approach to seeking God. (Seriously, Nigerians don't play when it comes to prayer. Prayer is warfare!)
Here’s what was even more incredible about those prayers when I was growing up. As soon as we were done, everybody went about their day like they believed God was about to reprimand the storm for interrupting whatever activities were planned for the day! (Whether God chose to blow away the storm or not in each instance is a discussion for another day).
I must confess though that I rarely pray with such boldness and Biblical conviction these days - I miss it though!
Can you imagine how impactful our lives would be, or the kind of influence we would have on our communities if we all prayed consistently with that kind of faith in God?
The truth is, Bold prayers scare us.
But it need not, especially because Jesus invites it in places like the book of Matthew chapter seventeen, verse twenty where he says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Do you know who once prayed a prayer so bold that it would rightly scare the living daylights out of the rest of us?
His name was Joshua.
This dude dared to ask God for the seemingly impossible when he spoke directly to the sun and gave it instructions to do something that suns generally prefer not to do. His story is in Joshua chapter ten, verse one to fourteeen. Here’s the backdrop to his insane prayer.
Joshua was an Israelite slave in Egypt when God freed the Jews from 400 years of captivity. He witnessed all the miraculous signs and wonders God performed through Moses on behalf of the Israelites. During the nation’s journey through the wilderness to a land God had promised their forefathers (Canaan), Joshua rose pretty quickly through the ranks and became Moses’ number two guy, the general in command of the Israelite army.
Eventually, Moses died and Joshua became the nation’s leader.
At different stages during their travels, they encountered enemy nations, who, for the most part, the Israelites were able to defeat in battle (with God’s help, of course). Word spread pretty quickly that they and their God were not to be fooled with. They struck so great a fear in the hearts of opposing cities that the residents of a city called Gibeon deceived them into signing a peace treaty. Unfortunately, that treaty came back to bite the Israelites on the backside because it drew unwanted attention from neighboring Amorite cities. Feeling threatened and wanting to exert their power and influence, five Amorite kings and their armies form a coalition and attacked the Gibeonites. Having signed a treaty with Israel, the Gibeonites call on their new ally for help, and Joshua now has to march his army to go assist them in battle.
From a human perspective, this WAS an impossible situation.
First of all, Joshua chapter ten, verse two points out that Gibeon was a large “royal” city and “ALL its men were good fighters.” So, by the time they call on Israel for help, we can surmise that they’ve been significantly beaten up and weakened. Secondly, Joshua chapter ten, verse seven and nine says that Joshua has had to march his army all night some twenty miles to join the fight.
Safe to say, this army is a little tired.
On the other end of the battlefield, however, is an alliance of five great armies. They clearly have a larger military force. They’re a more established army with better tested battle equipments, and they have strategic location advantage because they would have been more familiar with the terrain than the Israelites. All that to say, the betting man would have put all his money on the coalition of five armies.
But remember what this blog post is about?
It’s about daring to ask God for the impossible. It’s about praying the kind of audacious prayers that only God can take credit for.
Now, a significant piece of this story is what happens during Joshua’s all-night march to join the fight. Joshua ten, verse eight essentially says God pulled Joshua aside and told him, “Hey man, you don’t even have to sweat about this fight. I HAVE GIVEN THEM INTO YOUR HANDS! They’re going to turn on their heels when they see you coming!” (My translation).
Here’s how the rest of the story plays out. Joshua ten, verse nine to eleven says, “After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.”
So, to be clear, this was ALL GOD! It was by His power and His will that Joshua and the Israelites secured their victory!
But, it turns out, the fight is actually not over.
While a significant number of the coalition army has been defeated, all five kings (and their soldiers) managed to flee the battlefield. Their plan was more than likely to hide under the cover of darkness, the cover of nightfall, so they could regroup and mount a deadly counter-attack. Joshua suspects this. He knows that if he doesn’t destroy the enemy army now, Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land could potentially grind to a halt. Joshua also remembers God’s promise that this battle was already a done deal! The enemy armies have already been delivered in defeat into his army’s hands.
THE BATTLE IS ALREADY HIS!
So, acting on faith and resting in the promise of of what God already told him would happen, Joshua dares to pray an audaciously bold prayer that no military general has ever thought to pray. In verse Joshua ten, verse twelve to fourteen, Joshua turns to the Sun and says:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!”
Is that not the most insane prayer you’ve ever heard?!
Joshua was instructing these elements to remain stationary in the sky for at least another 24 hours so that he and his army could have more daylight and more sunshine to see the enemy army and to defeat them in a battle that God already won for them! To be clear, Joshua was not just speaking to the sun, but he was praying to the God who created the Sun and the Moon!
Forget mustard seed faith, this was a watermelon-sized act of faith!
Had I been leading that charge, that is certainly NOT the prayer I would have thought to pray. Nuh-uh. I'd have been like, “Father God, we just thank you for this victory so far. We commit our army into your hands, that Father God, you would just watch over us and keep us safe as we go back home!”
Oh, How I pray that we would be more daring in the things we believe God for and more courageous in taking faith-filled-action. How I long to see God’s people (that’s you) take Jesus at His word when He says in Matthew seventeen, verse twenty, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
What about you? What is your Sun Stand Still prayer?
For Joshua, finishing off the five Amorite kings meant praying a literal “sun stand still” prayer, then engaging in battle to secure a victory that God had already granted him. He prayed and trusted God, but he also picked up his sword to fight.
What mountain-sized prayers buried deep in your heart have you been afraid to pray? What godly aspirations have seemed unattainable to you?
Or let me ask it another way, how might you (whether intentionally or unintentioanlly) have made God small? Where have you boxed Him in, reasoning that your prayer was greater than what He could/would accomplish?
Might I challenge you today to take a few steps out of your comfort zone and start praying prayers worthy of the creator of heaven and earth?
I’m not talking about coming up with a random wish list of selfish prayers that help you further your kingdom plans and agenda. No. I’m talking about the prayers that have been birth in you by the Spirit of God, the prayers that are founded on God’s word, prayers that are Christ-honoring, affirmed by godly people in your life, and closely tied to your passions, gifts, and life experiences! More importantly, prayers that seem so impossible that only God could provide an answer.
Those are the prayers that the book of first John, chapter five, verse fourteen to fifteen speak of when it says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
So, I ask again – what is your sun stand still prayer?
And more importantly, how are you readying yourself to receive or step into what you believe God is going to do in response to your audacious prayer? Think of it this way, if by noon tommorow, God were to hear and respond to your grand prayer of faith, how have you prepared yourself to receive what it is you were seeking Him for? Remember the example in the beginning about praying Nigerians going about their daily business because they believed God was about to blow away the storm?
What is a preparatory act of faith you need to take today as you pray? In the words of an old Russian proverb, "Trust God and pray, but also keep rowing to the shore."
Remember, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
O, how I pray that God would bless you with a boldness in prayer that you have never known, and that the Holy Spirit of God fills you to overflowing with courage to act on what you believe He is about to do!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.