Should we be specific in our requests to God? There are those who say that if we are not specific it is because we do not have faith in God. Is this so?
There are some prayers that should be specific such as praying for forgiveness from God for sin in our lives. We should pray specifically for lacks of virtue in our lives. We should pray for God to deliver us from temptation.
But what about specific things in the secular domain? Say there is a situation in someone’s life that indicates a need. Should we lift that person up in prayer and ask God to intervene? Yes, but should we then start explaining to God how He should intervene? No. It is enough to intercede for someone by calling upon the Lord to undertake in circumstances. Usually, personal situations are so complex and the number of possible outcomes so varied that it is not within our wisdom to know what specifically should be done. It is not a lack of faith if we do not pray specifically. In fact, it honors our Heavenly father more to acknowledge His power, His love and admit our ignorance and simply leave with Him the situation with confidence that He WILL work. But His work will be in His time, in His way and we might not even see the outcome ourselves.
How utterly powerful is that promise given us by the Lord through Paul in his letter to the Philippians 4:16,17. “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” A few points contained in this great command with promise… We should fret for nothing. We should lift everything to God in prayer and thanksgiving in advance for His interest and concern. And we should put as a matter of the will, our fears aside. God shall keep give us peace of mind and quiet hearts. What a tremendous concept to get a grip on in our prayer life.
God wants us to be joyful and have peace. Situations that are heavy can weigh upon our hearts and sap the joy and peace from us. These situations should be identified and handed over to our Heavenly Father. This is done as an act of our will, not emotion. Then, as an act of the will we should refuse to allow our minds to fret further. Any recurrence of worry should be met with reminding ourselves that we have given the situation to our Heavenly Father and we should thank Him that we know He is trustworthy.
Here are some things about our attitude toward God that I think are important in prayer. We must first be convinced that God is able to answer prayer. We have to believe that He has the power and the ability to affect matters in a positive way. It is good to spend time meditating on Him as creator of the universe. Think about how vast is the universe and then reflect on the power it would take to create this and keep it in existence.
Then it is important to think about God’s goodness and concern for us. If we do not believe that He cares, it is difficult to have faith that moves mountains. Think on the scriptures that speak of God’s knowledge of our lives and of His interest in us. There are many scriptures that speak to this but one that is very powerful is Romans 8;32, “He that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
Thinking on these two ideas, God’s power and God’s goodwill toward us is how we come to a place of faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (See Rom 10;17). When we are convinced of God’s ability and when we are convinced of his willingness to answer our prayer, we then need to think on His promise. See that verse above in Romans 8;32. God shall freely give us all things. Does this promise apply only if we live a perfect life? The verse doesn’t say that, does it? Does this promise apply only if we have earned it? The verse says “freely give.” That means we don’t have to deserve it. It is our enemy, Satan who will tell us that the promise is conditional on how much we deserve it. Satan wants us to believe that because he knows none of us deserve any favor from God and if we believe Satan’s lie, we will not have faith. But the promise says that if God would give His only Son for us, He will freely give us all things.
When we have come to this place of faith, then we can place our situation in the hands of God and know that He WILL answer. But remember. It can be a mistake to tell God exactly what and exactly how and exactly when the answer to our prayer must be. We need to see that He knows all things already, he sees the end point when we cannot. And He is willing to undertake for us. We must place our situation in His hands and then refuse to worry as a matter of the will. This is His command to us and if we do this we will have peace of mind.
And best of all, God is honored by this attitude and will answer our prayer. Will the answer be exactly what we think is needed? Will it happen exactly when we think it should? Not likely, because God has plans for us that we know nothing about and will find out about only when He is ready.
But He is able and He does care for us. And he will answer.