Prayer: From BHAGs to BHARs

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Dave Acree is the EFCC’s Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This regular column on prayer is designed to accompany the Prayer Calendar.


Those who are familiar with the writings of Jim Collins on leadership and business know what a BHAG is. In his book, Built to Last, he introduces a BHAG as a powerful mechanism to stimulate progress in a company or corporation. BHAGs (pronounced bee-hags) are “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.”

If I were currently writing a book on prayer, I would entitle the book Built to Ask and change the “G” to “R” turning BHAGs into BHARs (pronounced bee-hars): Big Hairy Audacious Requests.

Even in my 70th year of life I’m still learning about prayer. Margaret Feinberg in her book The Sacred Echo, writes:

“If his son asks for bread, what I am asking God for? In all honesty, a lot of crumby prayers. I’d like to think it’s because I’m maturing in my prayer life. I’m offering God more reasonable requests . . . . Or am I just praying it safe?” (page 81)

I have to admit that the phrase “praying it safe” struck home. That’s me, the safe prayer. But there’s even more to it than that. My belief in the sovereignty of God limits my asking. God is going to do what he is going to do no matter what I ask him to do. I don’t really believe that but I pray like I do. I realized that I am hardly asking at all.

So I’m learning to ask. Here are some guiding principles I’m working from.

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3, NIV 2011)

After a parable on shameless audacity Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you.” (Luke 11:9, NIV 2011)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV 2011)

I have two BHARs going right now. I am praying for two recently met individuals God has laid on my heart, one in Turkey and one in Australia, that God will reveal himself to them and that they will come to know him personally. These BHARs seem to be impossible to me. So I am undergirding them with this incident from the life of Jesus (Mark 10:17-27) and in particular this verse:

“With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. “ (Mark 10:27)

I challenge you to a BHAR!!

Now for a shameless commercial. Come to Ft. Langley in August to the EFCC National Conference and attend my seminar on “Praying It Risky” to delve more deeply into BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS REQUESTS.