Monday, September 20, 2010

Praying Specific Prayers

Question: How specific is your prayer life?
Question: Is your prayer life specific enough that you would instantly recognize that God answered your prayer?

Fact is, most of our prayer life is general.

"Bless me" - how will you know if He does? How would you know if your blessing is a direct result of your prayer? Why not be more specific when asking for blessing? Sure, we pray things like, "Bless me at work today," or "bless my finances." What about praying, "Bless me when I talk with my boss at work today about the Lord," or "bless me by providing the $130 I still need to pay my electric bill."?

When my daughter needs something, she asks for it specifically. Why? She wants something specific. She doesn't say, "Dad, bless me." She says, "Dad, buy me that Barbie swimming pool and princess tea set."

We should definitely pray like the Lord's Prayer. The prayer starts out with three "Your" statements about His Name, Kingdom, and will. It transitions to four "us" statements - bread, forgiveness, temptation, and deliverance from evil (the evil one). Notice which comes first - YOUR. We always start out prayer with focus on God, not ourselves. Now, what name for God is used in this prayer - "FATHER". It could have been, "Our God...," "Our Lord...," or even "Our Master." The fact that Jesus said pray with Him this way, "Our FATHER..." indicates a intimate parent/child relationship is involved. If He is our Father, shouldn't we ask Him specific things?

Luke 11 says God wants to give us good gifts and blessings. Yes, you can remain vague in your prayers, but he desires you ask specifically. Now, it has to be according to His will - that 's why prayer starts out with worship, knowing him and his will. When we do this first, what used to concern us seems to fade quickly. We realize we didn't need those things after all because they weren't important to the Kingdom.

You would never pray, "God, my child has cancer. Heal her or don't, it's up to you. Give the doctors the wisdom to know what to do or don't. Comfort her little body or don't." We wouldn't pray this way? Would we? We sometimes do. I would pray for healing, fully believing that it would happen, until it didn't happen. (I think about how David prayed fervently for his child to be healed until the baby wasn't). I would ask for specific answers through the entire process. Why? I have faith to know that He can heal and I desire my daughter to be cancer free. Would you ever pray, "God, don't heal my daughter of cancer?" You pray through - believing all the way.

We repent of specific sins. When we read our bibles, we look for and apply specific scripture. We should also worship with specificity. Ministry is done specifically, not generally. Prayer should be done the same way.

Being specific puts us in an uncomfortable situation sometimes. What if God doesn't answer the specific request? What if someone sees that specific prayer not being answered? What would it do to my faith if it wasn't answered? A big problem in prayer theology is we think a "yes" from God means he loves us and "no" from Him means he doesn't. I remember asking my dad for things as a kid. When he would say no, I would wonder why and sometimes even get mad. Now that I'm older and have kids, I understand why he said no - I say no to my kids for the very same reasons. If we are specific in our prayers and we don't get the answer we are praying for it does not mean that God is less real. It doesn't mean that He loves us less. It doesn't even mean He isn't powerful enough to do it. Jesus specifically asked for his suffering on the cross to be done a different way if possible. He still died on the cross. Paul prayed three times for his specific thorn in the flesh to be taken away. He was told no.

The fear of a "no" answer shouldn't make you shy away from praying specific prayers? Why? Because when you pray specifically and get a "no", you'll get a chance for a bigger glimpse into the Lord's will. God wants you to ask, seek and knock. He wants to give you good gifts. If you are growing in Him, you'll know what to ask for and a lot more than not, you'll get a "yes" answer. Remember this, God can bless you MORE THAN your specific request. Don't put limits on God! Just think what the answer to a specific prayer will do to your prayer life - and faith in God!

The Word says, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16 NIV. Don't forget the "righteous man" part.

How do we pray specific? Here are some tips:
1. Is what we are asking for wise? Would it potentially harm us or others?
2. Does what we ask for line up with scripture? Prayer must not just be positive thinking or good ideas. It must match the principles and examples of scripture.
3. Is our prayer selfish or vengeful? Are we trying to use God as our maid or genie in a bottle? Are we trying to get God to punish those who hurt us?
4. Can you handle the outcome of the prayer if it is "yes"? If you ask for a million dollars, what would you do with it? Be honest.
5. Will the answer help or hinder us in our calling? How would a "Yes" please and honor God through what He desires for us to accomplish him (on earth as it is in heaven).
6. Does the prayer sound general? Ask yourself, what is the answer you are looking for? Is the answer specific or general?
7. Will you obey God regardless of the outcome of your prayer? Will you serve and honor Him even if the answer is not favorable?

I encourage you to ask specific things in your prayer. Make a journal of your prayer life. Evaluate it to see not only if your prayers are being answered but, most importantly, that you are growing closer to your Father, His Kingdom and Will.

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