There are numerous cases in the Bible of those who exercised great faith through prayer. Here are just four examples.
1. Abraham’s servant prayed for a wife for Isaac—Genesis 24:10-27. There are two things in this story that may show us the great faith of the servant. First, though the task of finding a wife for Isaac was huge, the servant did not lack in confidence that God would lead him to her. This is evident by the ten camels brought along, packed down with a variety of gifts, which the servant fully expected to give to the women and her family (Gen. 24:10, 53). Second, the prayer was so specific, which shows to us the servants close communion with God and his great confidence in God’s ability to answer prayer.
After the prayer was answered so directly (vv. 15-20), the servant bowed his head low and worshiped the LORD saying, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brother” (vv. 26-27).
This heart felt conclusion demonstrates most clearly the servant’s great faith and loyalty to God, and leaves us with no doubts as to why God chose to answer his prayer so quickly and so directly.
2. Hannah’s prayer for a son—1 Samuel 1:10-20. Hannah’s prayer was not a big prayer because she prayed for a son; rather, it was a big prayer because up to this time God had closed her womb. Thus, she prayed contrary to Gods apparent will. She cried out to God in bitter tears, even vowed with an oath that if God would give her a son she would give Him up to the Lord to serve the Lord all of his days. God was touched by Hannah’s tears and gave her Samuel, who became a great prophet for God.
3. Elijah raises a dead child to life through prayer—1 Kings 17:20-21. There are numerous cases in the Old Testament where the power of God is demonstrated through the life and prayers of Elijah. This prayer, though short, was among the greatest. For a child was dead, and Elijah simply but earnestly called out to the Lord and said, “‘O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s life return to him.’ And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the boy returned to him and he revived.”
The resurrection power that came through Elijah’s prayers was not due to any fancy words of prayer, but rather was due to his right standing with God. If prayers are not answered it is not due to God’s unwillingness or inability to answer, but rather it is because we are living in sin and out of touch with God. But for Elijah, the Lord was truly his God (v. 21) and that is why his prayers were effective (Ja. 5:15-18).
4. Hezekiah prayed for victory over Assyria—Isaiah 37:15-36. At this time in history, Assyria was a great power in the world. Wherever they went to conquer they completely destroyed those lands. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, fully expected to conquer the land of Judah as well. But Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not give in to the taunting of the Assyrians, by which they were constantly trying to persuade Judah to surrender. Instead Hezekiah turned to God in prayer for help.
What makes Hezekiah’s prayer so beautiful and so full of faith was his high regard for God’s glory and reputation. Thus he prayed, “O Lord our God, deliver us from his [Sennacherib’s] hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, Lord, art God.”
That night the angel of the Lord went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; “and when men arose early in the morning, behold all of these were dead” (v. 36). What a great victory for God and for Hezekiah. Hezekiah prayed a big prayer and God gave a big answer.
In these four examples of big prayers that got big answers, we may observe that there was one common element: the one who prayed prayed with great faith in God to answer. And I’m sure that if we would examine every single prayer that got an answer we would find the same conclusion.