The importance and impact of praying boldly

Published 10:00 am Sunday, July 17, 2022

By Larry E. Davies

I was at a clergy meeting talking to one of the pastors. I mentioned experiencing a tough day, struggling with a few personal issues that week. He listened intently and promised to pray for me. We often say, “I will pray for you,” with good intentions. Sometimes we pray and sometimes we forget. That is what I expected of this pastor, in a room crowded with other pastors, but I was so wrong.

He took my hands leaned back, closed his eyes and in a loud baritone voice that could be heard across two counties, he prayed: “Oh Lord, Lord, Lord, my friend Larry has serious problems at home and in his ministry. He needs your help Lord, and he needs it right now. Please help him Lord as only you can.”

The room grew deathly quiet as everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and listened. I was so embarrassed, yet I was also moved. His prayer was passionate and intimate as if he knew God on a first name basis. All day, whenever I ran into someone, I told them about this pastor and his prayer. I never forgot what happened. Since then, I’ve shared this story many times. This pastor taught me the meaning of what it means to pray boldly with faith in a God that not only hears our prayers but responds.

Does this mean that if you ask for prayer, I will grab your hands, lean back, and shout out a prayer? No! That’s not me. What I did learn is how prayer and our life of prayer is a critical tool not only to communicate with God but to also demonstrate our compassion for others. I’ve learned that prayer is not something I promise to do later when it’s needed now. Prayer connects us with God and with each other.

God intends for us to pray boldly, trusting we will receive answers.

About twenty years ago, “Prayer of Jabez” written by Bruce Wilkinson based on the two verses in 1 Chronicles read earlier became one of the most talked about books of the year. Like many pastors, I challenged our congregation to pray that prayer regularly.

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory that Your hand would be with me and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”

There are four distinct prayer requests:

  • Bless me… not in a selfish way but in a way pleasing to God.
  • Enlarge my territory… help me to imagine new possibilities for serving God.
  • Be with me… guide me as I attempt to turn possibility into reality.
  • Keep me from evil… protect me from messing up along the way.

I didn’t always know about the prayer of Jabez, but I have prayed to enlarge my territory.

  • In the business world I wanted to do more so God guided me to become a pastor.
  • With three small churches, I asked God to help me reach new people: He led me to writing a weekly column at the local newspaper.
  • When my website was bombarded with prayer needs, more than I could handle. I asked for help and God led me to prayer partners and we formed an online prayer ministry.
  • I prayed for a mission opportunity and God sent me to Sri Lanka shortly after the Tsunami struck.
  • I prayed for the opportunity to help other pastors and God led me to become a District Superintendent responsible for 70 some pastors.
  • After I retired, I prayed for a way to continue making a difference as a pastor and I believe God answered my prayers by sending me to the church I pastor now.

Will God expand your territory? Yes, but often in surprising ways. Bruce Wilkinson writes:

  • God enlarges your territory by enabling you to do something different or new.
  • God enlarges your territory by sharpening your skills and improving your strategy, enabling you to do what you do, better.
  • God enlarges your territory by enabling you to do something more influential.

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory that Your hand would be with me and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”

If you have the courage to pray for God to enlarge your territory, be alert because God will answer.

The pastor who grabbed my hands and prayed with me in a crowded room certainly made a difference in my life and taught me the importance and the potential impact of praying boldly.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.