The following is from Max Lucado’s book “Anxious for Nothing”
- A specific prayer is a serious prayer. If I say to you, “Do you mind if I come by your house sometime?” you may not take me seriously. But suppose I say, “Can I come over this Friday night? I have a problem at work, and I really need your advice. I can be there at seven, and I promise I will leave by eight.” Then you know my petition is sincere. When we offer specific requests, God knows the same.
- Specific prayer is an opportunity for us to see God at work. When we see Him respond in specific ways to specific requests, our faith grows. The book of Genesis relates the wonderful prayer of Abraham’s servant. He was sent to Mesopotamia, Abraham’s homeland, to find a wife for Abraham’s son. How does a servant select a wife for someone else? This servant prayed about it.
- Specific prayer creates a lighter load. Many of our anxieties are threatening because they are ill defined and vague. If we can distill the challenge into a phrase, we bring it down to size. It is one thing to pray, Lord, please bless my meeting tomorrow. It is another thing to pray, Lord, I have a conference with my supervisor at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. She intimidates me. Would you please grant me a spirit of peace so I can sleep well tonight? Grant me wisdom so I can enter the meeting prepared. And would You soften her heart toward me and give her a generous spirit? Help us have a gracious conversation in which both of us benefit and Your name is honored. There. You have reduced the problem into a prayer-sized challenge.
Psalm 5 is a prayer of David that both focused and specific.
Psalms 5:1-3 NIV Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
In the original language, this depicts setting up for a sacrifice and laying the pieces of wood in a specific order.
Here’s the rest of David’s prayer.
Psalms 5:4-12 NIV For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest. But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple. Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me. Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
David was saying, “Not only am I praying with passion, but I am praying with precision. I am being specific in my prayer. When you are specific and focused you don’t fall into the trap that Jesus warned against.
Matthew 6:7 NIV And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
King Solomon also tells us that we should think about it when you pray.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 CEV Be careful what you do when you enter the house of God. Fools go there to offer sacrifices, because all they do is sin. But it's best just to listen when you go to worship. Don't talk before you think or make promises to God without thinking them through. God is in heaven, and you are on earth, so don't talk too much. (Emphasis mine)
We should be passionate when we pray but we should also think through what we will bring before the throne of God.