A youth leader once said to me, “Be careful what you pray for; God might not answer your prayers how you expect.” This throwaway comment gave me the impression that God was a mischievous genie who would twist your words and grant your wishes to your detriment. The story of King Midas, who wished that everything he touched would turn to gold, became a cautionary tale about the peril of prayer.

I spent a significant amount of time vaguely praying, Your will be done”, fearful that any wrong theology or misspoken word could have disastrous effects. Of course, I’m sure this isn’t what the youth leader meant, but it took many years to realise that I’d jumped to the wrong conclusions.

God is a good God who, as Luke 11 says, will not give us a snake if we ask for a fish or a scorpion if we ask for an egg. He can and will do amazing things if we ask. I missed out on many opportunities to see God reveal His power to me because I was scared to pray for anything specific.

Raman* grew up in a Hindu family in India and his grandfather was a Hindu priest. Raman wasn’t even a Christian when he prayed a bold prayer. When Raman was nine, he was ill and nobody knew what to do. Someone suggested his mother go to church and ask the Christians there to pray for him. She did and Raman was miraculously healed. This convinced Raman’s mother and sister to follow Jesus, but Raman remained a Hindu. 


Seven years later, when Raman was 16, he was hit by a truck. He was close to death and again Christians prayed for him. After three weeks, Raman woke up. He said: I looked awful: I had scars on my face and I had to walk with crutches. I didn’t feel happy at all. I told my mum, If God has really healed me, then I want to walk without those crutches.’” She prayed with him, and continued to pray for several days. Within a week, all the strength came back into my legs. That was the moment I realised that Jesus had healed me,” Raman said. 

Today, Raman is the pastor of a church. He suffers intense persecution for his faith; he was injured when his church was burnt down while he was inside. On another occasion, he and his pregnant wife were knocked off their bike by an attacker. They lost their child. But such is Raman’s vision of God that, despite this persecution, he plans to plant hundreds of churches in his surrounding villages. 

Do you have high expectations of God? Do you pray big expectant prayers? Or, like me, have you been too afraid to demand too much or ask for specific things, unsure if God will show up? Open Doors founder, Brother Andrew, said, If your vision doesn’t scare you, then both your vision and your God are too small.” This quote is a constant reminder for me to expect more of God and to ask more of Him, like Raman did. 

In many ways Brother Andrew was reckless. He smuggled Bibles into closed countries. He was wanted by the KGB. He went to share the gospel with the leader of Hezbollah and met with two of the founders of Hamas. But he did it all with God, bolstered by prayer and with such conviction of God’s power. God never let him down. Brother Andrew’s life is a testament to God’s miracles, mercy and the power of prayer. 

At Open Doors we live Brother Andrew’s legacy; we have big visions to see prisoners released, closed countries open to the gospel, and Christians supported and protected in some of the most hostile countries in the world. We pray for nations and people in impossible situations with confidence that God hears us and is acting: because our God is not a small God. 

In 1982, Open Doors launched a seven-year campaign of prayer for the communist bloc. Seven years later in 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union opened to the gospel and Christian prisoners were released.

I know now that God is not a genie out to trip me up. I know that it doesn’t matter if I am inarticulate in His presence because the Spirit intercedes for me (Romans 8). I know that God works all things for good for those who love Him. So, I am praying for things that scare me. I’m praying with a big vision of God. And I’m ready to knuckle down and pray even for seven years. 

The persecuted church is an incredible testament to the power of prayer; their stories are humbling and inspiring. If you want to discover more courageous Christians like Raman and how you can support them through prayer then visit open​door​suk​.org/pray. Or read God’s Smuggler, the powerful account of how Brother Andrew began a global underground network which keeps the church alive in some of the most dangerous places on earth.