If we want specific answers to our prayers, we must make definite, individual, and personalized requests. Too many of our prayers are filled with sweeping generalizations that seek God’s blessings. Effective, fervent prayer; however, focuses on specific requests. If we pinpoint our prayers, we will have reason to praise God for particular answers! Communication is vital to any relationship, be it parent and child, husband and wife, employer and employee, coach and athlete, but more importantly between God and His children. Jesus showed us the importance of communication during His time on earth. The Gospels tell us of nearly 20 occasions when He prayed to His heavenly Father in different circumstances such as:
(1) At His baptism (Luke 3:21)
(2) During brief rests from ministry (Luke 6:12)
(3) Before raising Lazarus (John 11:41)
(4) For guidance (Luke 6:12-13)
(5) To give thanks for food (John 6:11)
(6) To express His desire to do His Father’s will (Matthew 26:39)
The Lord Jesus encourages us to come to Him with our needs (Matthew 7:7-12), and we should be specific in our request when we do. Our prayers shouldn’t be vague generalities such as “save the world,” but pointed, “Save my spouse, my friends, my neighbor, my co-worker.” Catherine Marshall compared generalized, non-focused prayers to window-shopping. She wrote this, “Window-shopping can be enjoyable, but there it ends. It costs nothing. We are just looking; do not intend to buy anything, so we bring nothing home to show for the hours of browsing.
Too many of our prayers, private and public, are just browsing among possible petitions, not down to cases at all.” We can learn much from Bartimaeus (Mark 10:51). He knew that the Lord had the ability to grant his request. He also knew exactly what he wanted. When the Lord turned to this blind man and gave him an opportunity to make a request, Bartimaeus said without hesitation, “I want to be able to see.” He believed that Jesus could heal him. Bartimaeus asked, and received. His plea was specific. May we too have the faith and courage to ask the Lord for our specific needs and trust Him to do what is best for us? Then we will avoid the ineffectiveness of window-shopping prayer.
Some years ago, a young girl was very sick and not expected to recover. Because of her love for Jesus, she was troubled that she had not been able to do more for Him in her short life. Her pastor suggested that she make a list of people in their little town who needed Christ and pray that they might put their faith in Him. She took his advice, made a list, and prayed often for each person. Sometime later God began to stir a revival in the village.
The girl heard of the people who were coming to Christ and prayed even more. As she heard reports, she checked off the names of those who had been led to the Lord. After the girl died, a prayer list with the names of 56 people was found under her pillow. All had put their faith in Jesus Christ, the last one on the night before her death. Such is the power of definite, specific, fervent prayer. James 5:16 puts it this way, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
(1) Make it a point, just as this girl did, to pinpoint your prayers with a prayer list.
(2) Then check them off one by one when the Lord answers them.