We’re having a third bite at this topic: developing a healthy prayer life by praying in such a way as to be confident God will act.
Sometimes being specific can be very important. Back in the ’80s together with a housing Association, we bought a part-share in a flat – 30% owned by us, 70% owned by the Association. After 18 months we had to move, but in the meantime, the housing market had crashed. The property lost £14,000 of its value (a lot of money now, but a whole lot more then!). We would have taken the hit if the split of the loss had been 30/70, but we had not noticed a specific detail in the small print. Profits were shared 30/70, but losses were wholly our responsibility. And there was no sub-letting clause. We made an agreement with the Association for sub-letting, but it was over a decade before we could sell the flat without making a loss.
Not being specific can have long-term consequences. Prayer is rarely satisfying nor meaningful if we go into our times of prayer without a willingness to be specific in our requests. Jesus was specific many times. For example, when he prayed for Peter:
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”” (Luke 22:32 NIV11)
In the previous two articles, we discovered two principles. Prayers that cause God to act are effective, 1. When God is who we are seeking; 2. When we are willing to be changed. Let me offer the final of these three thoughts…
Prayer is satisfying when what we’re praying about is specific.
God answers prayer! Reflect on these words of J. C. Ryle, “Prayer has obtained things that seemed impossible and out of reach. It has won victories over fire, air, earth and water. Prayer opened the Red Sea. Prayer brought water from the rock and bread from heaven. Prayer made the sun stand still. Prayer brought fire from the sky on Elijah’s sacrifice. Prayer overthrew the army of Sennacherib. Prayer has healed the sick. Prayer has raised the dead. Prayer had procured the conversion of countless souls.”
Not so long ago I prayed with a friend. One of our prayers was for those who had lost their faith. Two hours later, through a combination of odd circumstances, I walked through somewhere I hadn’t planned to visit. I bumped into the son of a former member of the church. He told me his mother had said to him she wanted to come and visit the church again. After that encounter, he visited the church and his sister came regularly. Coincidence, or an answer to specific prayer? I forget who said it, but I love the quote, “The more I pray, the more coincidences happen.” God-incidences are more frequent when we pray specifically!
Let’s seek God’s satisfying presence, open our hearts to become submissive to His will and pray specifically for Him to answer our requests.
Questions: What stands in the way of you being specific in your prayers? What will you do differently in your next prayer time? Do you have examples of answers to specific prayer? Leave a comment in the comment section below.
What are we waiting for? Let’s exercise the prayer-nerve and God will move the muscle!