Andrew Murray in his wonderful book, With Christ In the School of Prayer, devotes a chapter to the importance of praying specifically. I wholeheartedly agree. Jesus Himself was very direct (specific) with people. Most people choose to ignore this part of His personality. They prefer to focus on the love and forgiveness part and ignore the other side of Jesus that is just as real.
I don’t like playing games.
I’m glad Jesus never did.
There’s a problem though with praying specific prayers. It can be disappointing. When we pray specifically, we know whether our prayers have been answered or not. For example, if I pray specifically that God will do something very observable and it just isn’t happening, I get discouraged.
If I pray in general terms, I’ll may never know if my prayers were answered. For example, praying that God will “bless” someone is such a general prayer, how will I ever know if my prayers have been answered? You may wonder why it’s important to know our prayers have been answered—-It’s because that’s how we stay encouraged to keep praying. It’s those answered prayers that keep us praying about the “unanswered” ones in our lives.
There are times, of course, that we have to pray in general terms because we don’t know enough about the person or the situation. When I face that situation I ask God to help me pray in accordance with what He is doing for that person or situation. I often pray these words, “Father, let my words reflect your will. Sometimes the words come easily. Other times I have to sit for a while. And of course, there are times when no words come. When that happens I ask God to bless or have mercy on the person or the situation.
Praying specifically requires boldness. It’s not for the fainthearted. What do you do when that very specific prayer isn’t answered?
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayer.
I wish I had an answer that would make you feel better. I don’t. I wish I had one that would make me feel better. I don’t. There are some people and some situations I’ve prayed about for years. Not days, not months-years. But I just keep on praying. I re-evaluate at times but then I get back to praying.
That’s all I know to do.
It’s called hope.