“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit,to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.” Romans 15:30-32
God wants us to pray for things we need and also for others. In fact, we should be praying constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:1) about many things. But some Christians pray so generally that they almost delegate their praying to God, as if to say, “Lord, just handle my praying for me because I don’t want to put much effort into it.” Let’s look at some examples.
1) “Lord, if you want me to marry, please provide the right girl; nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.”
At first glance, this seems innocent enough, even spiritual, but perhaps it really isn’t. Usually there’s much more to the story. The young man praying might have been on a couple of dates with a girl he’s interested in, but wasn’t sure if he should pursue her. He might have prayed more specific, such as “Lord, show me if this girl loves you,” or, “Lord, please show me if this girl will be a positive influence on any future children we may have.”
2) “Lord, show me if you want me to stay in my present job.”
But maybe that’s not specific enough. For example, we could have added, “Lord, my boss doesn’t seem to like me and can’t stop piling on the work. He doesn’t treat others that way, why me? If I’ve done something to offend him or if I’m not performing up to task, please show that to me.”
In the passage above, the Apostle Paul offered up a very specific prayer request. We can see his depth of trust in God and confidence in His willingness to answer. Paul got specific. He asked to be delivered from unbelieving opponents in Judea, the type that he faced throughout his journeys. He also prayed that the love offering he gathered from various churches would be accepted by the saints in Jerusalem.
Praying specifically demonstrates faith in God in a way that general praying does not. Bringing up specific situations to God demonstrates that we live all of our life before God and that we believe He can help us along the way, to bring Him glory. When we pray specifically, we pray more often. The coach who tells his team, “Just play good football,” with no specifics, forfeits his right to win the game. Instead he should have run through the plays until each player knew and understood his role. Similarly, when we simply ask God to bless our day and that’s it, we sort of delegate our praying to God and tell Him to handle the details. God wants us to pray for specific things that would bring Him honor. It shows we are keenly aware that God is near in all situations and ready to help.
The same is true in intercessory prayer. “Lord, bless the sick and heal them.” Do we really suppose that God will then heal every sick person? We should get quite specific with specific individuals and don’t be afraid to ask for specific outcomes. “Lord, kindly heal Sue of her cancer, and give her the grace to praise Your name throughout.” When Christians only pray for the most generalist of outcomes, it might reveal a lack of faith in what God can do.
Of course we always need to append to our prayers an earnest desire to see only God’s will fulfilled, even as Jesus did in His own prayers (Matthew 26:39). But, pray with detail and do not be afraid to present to God the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). God will let us know soon enough if He has either delayed or denied our request. But He might answer positively! So keep offering up to God your prayers and do not be afraid to zero in on desired outcomes. If God doesn’t answer us in the way we asked, then we should rejoice that He is bringing about His will and that He is much wiser than we are.
Posted on Wed, June 3, 2015
by Sam Petitfils