The Importance of Specific Prayer

August 2005

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be praying. I’ve listened to the prayers of some of the people at my home church and have noticed a lack of specificity in them. It seems that the idea is that since God knows best we can just pray generally and He’ll do what He wants anyway. Interestingly I have found almost no general prayers of that nature in Scripture. You look at Paul’s prayers and prayer requests (Rom 1:10; Eph 3:14-19; 6:19-20; Php 1:9-11; Col 4:3) and at Jesus’ recorded prayers (see the Lord’s Prayer, John 17, and the prayer in Gethsemane in Mt. 26:39). Read David’s prayers in the Psalms. These prayers are always asking for specific answers from God and never simply asking for generalities.

Unspecific prayer is like throwing a bucket of water in the general direction of a filthy car. Some of it may hit it and moisten the dirt and maybe even loosen it, but it isn’t as effective as getting out a garden hose, a sponge, and some soap and really washing the vehicle. Sure, it’s more work, but the results are much more striking.

Specific prayer takes more time and effort, but it is better for us as it trains our “prayer muscles” and it is more honoring to God when we’re specific. He loves the specifics and He will often answer the very details that we pray for, and not only that, He’ll surpass them! I’ve seen this happen again and again in my life and in the life of others who pray specifically.

As you pray for me and for others, I would encourage you to pray specifically. Before you start praying, think about what you would want God to do for this person. Pray for details. Pray with this person’s best interests in mind. And above all else pray with the expectation that God is going to move in a way far beyond anything you can dream or imagine.