I have prayed to God my entire life, but have not always thought to pray specifically. When I keep my talks with God vague, it is because to pray specifically exposes my vulnerability; similar to when a friend asks how you are doing and you don’t reveal the whole truth.
When we pray we are tempted to hold back heartache or disappointment so raw it is hard to express.
There is nothing wrong with general prayers, but there is more.
When we have a relationship with Jesus, we have an intimate connection and speak directly to our closest friend and savior.
A comparison of when we pray generally versus when we pray specifically:
“God bless us today and keep us safe”, Instead of “God I am frightened with what I am facing today and need you to walk beside me”.
“Jesus help my child at school”, instead of “Jesus, Lily is struggling with understanding math please help her grasp the concepts today”.
“God bring peace”, instead of “God I feel anxious with the world could you help me walk in peace and demonstrate it to others.”
When we pray specifically we are trusting God with all of the pain, doubt, worry, and fear we are carrying.
Should You be Specific in Prayer?
Lately, I have been challenged to pray specifically; to clearly communicate my specific needs, struggles, and desires to God.
Should you be specific in prayer? I think it is the best way to pray and connect with God. To pray specifically does not mean guaranteed answers, but we are completely opening our hearts and trusting God with our deepest hope, joy, and sorrow.
To pray specifically draws us closer to God and strengthens our faith and relationship with Christ.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
Matthew 6:7-8 NLT
The Power of Specific Prayer
Prayer is a conversation with God; that’s it. Prayer can be simple and authentic and does not have to be memorized or formal. To pray specifically is one of the greatest investments to nurture our souls. Our spiritual communication changes our life especially when we embrace the power of specific prayer.
After a year of marriage, my husband and I were sorting out some career decisions. I was praying for direction in our next move. One day, as I prayed, I realized what I really wanted was to start a family. I had suppressed my deep desire for a child because of fear.
What if I never have children? What if God doesn’t answer? The pain of not having a child would be compounded by admitting how badly I wanted a child.
But I took the first step and told my husband I was ready for a baby and still remember the relief I felt. We then began to pray specifically for a child.
After struggles with infertility, we eventually welcomed our son into the world and the power of specific prayer began to get cemented into my heart.
Although not all of my prayers are answered as I would like, I still believe praying specifically has strengthened my trust in God and helped me grow spiritually. Specific prayer has blessed my family and relationships.
I have learned the power of praying specifically is not about the request or the answer but about developing a closer relationship with Jesus. When we pour out our angst, grief, worry and control, God is able to replace it with the freedom His peace brings.
We are then available to shine the love of Christ and serve others.
4 Reasons We Don’t Pray Specifically
We don’t feel worthy to pray specifically
We are worthy and chosen by God; His beloved. He waits for us to love Him and communicate through prayer.
“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”
1 Peter 2:9-10 MSG
We don’t believe God is interested in the details of our life
God is interested in every detail of our lives. Nothing is too small or insignificant to bring to His attention because He loves everything about us.
“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.”
Luke 12:6-7 MSG
We are afraid God will not answer our prayer
Praying specifically does not mean all of our prayers will be answered. It means we completely trust God and are willing to communicate with Him about everything. We then must wait patiently for the right answer.
“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You, I wait all the day.”
Psalm 25:5 NASB
We are afraid to be vulnerable and admit our greatest needs
We can talk to God about anything and pray specifically. If our desires are not in line with God’s purpose or plans for our life, the Holy Spirit will reveal it to us.
“Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results.”
James 5:16 TLB
“And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”
James 4:3 NLT
Examples of Specific Prayer in the Bible
There are many examples of how to pray and specific prayer in the Bible. Lessons about the power found when we pray specifically are recorded for us to study and understand that God anticipates spending time with us through prayer.
6 Bible Characters who Decided to Pray Specifically:
Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, prayed specifically
When Eliezer was sent to find a wife for Isaac, he prayed,
“Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.”
Isaac prayed specifically
When Isaac and Rebekah couldn’t have children, he prayed.
“Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”
Hezekiah prayed specifically
When Hezekiah wanted to heal his body, he prayed.
“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.”
2 Kings 20:2-5 NIV
Elijah prayed specifically
When Elijah wanted the weather to be changed, he prayed.
“Elijah was as completely human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! Then he prayed again, this time that it would rain, and down it poured, and the grass turned green and the gardens began to grow again.”
James 5:17-18 TLB
Paul prayed specifically
Paul prayed for the church and for the message of Christ to continue to be shared.
“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.
I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present.”
Philippians 1:3-5 MSG
Jesus prayed specifically
One of the greatest examples to encourage us to pray specifically is Jesus. He prayed often, in many situations for specific requests.
Jesus prays for His disciples:
“Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[ now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.”
John 17:11 NLT
Jesus prays for His suffering:
“Once more Jesus went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”
Matthew 26:42 GNT
Jesus prays for those who are responsible for His death:
“When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.”
Luke 23:33-34 NLT
How to Pray
When we talk to God we can pray specifically, pray expectantly, pray with confidence and pray persistently. Jesus walks beside us and intercedes on our behalf. When we pray, we will feel God’s presence and be guided by the Holy Spirit.
“We often fear being honest because it was not safe to express honesty in our earthly relationships. With Job we fear both abandonment and retaliation. People abandoned us or attacked us when we told them how we really felt.
Rest assured, however, that God desires truth in our “inner parts” (Ps. 51:6). He is seeking people who will have a real relationship with him (John 4:23–24). He wants to hear it all, no matter how bad it seems to us.”
Dr. Henry Cloud
When we pray specifically, we are entrusting our deepest secrets to the one who loves us unconditionally. Our visceral needs that reside in our souls are laid out for Christ to comfort and guide us to supernatural peace.
When we pray specifically it helps our spirit avoid drowning in the sorrow that swirls around us.
O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.
Psalm 25:1-5 NLT
“But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.”
James 1:5 GNB
When we pray expectantly, we place our expectations on the belief that God knows what is best for us. We pray expectantly to see God weave through our life and work on our behalf.
“When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.”
Psalm 91:15 NLT
Pray with Confidence
When we pray with confidence, we express the belief that God is able to answer our specific prayer. We stand firmly in our identity in Christ and are confident He goes before us and works everything out for our good. The best gift of specific prayer is growing closer to God despite our circumstances.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
1 John 5:14 ESV
When we pray persistently, we do not give up asking God. We persevere in prayer even when it seems our prayer is going unanswered. I have been praying for years for a particular situation. Although I don’t pray about it every day, I do pray persistently for God to answer. So far His answer is no, but I still have peace about praying persistently for my request.
“Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.”
1 Chronicles 16:11 NLT
How did Jesus Pray?
Our conversation about praying specifically would not be complete without highlighting what Jesus said about the benefits of prayer and how we should pray.
The Lord’s prayer is a model and reminder of how did Jesus pray so we can learn from His example.
We can recite the Lord’s prayer from a place of honest open connection and talk to God informally as well. The Lord’s prayer is a great example of how to pray specifically.
Since Jesus shows us how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, here are two versions we can meditate on:
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:9-13 NIV
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best—as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty!
Matthew 6:7-13 MSG
What about you? Has your life been radically transformed by knowing Jesus? Are you discovering the wisdom found in His Word; the joy and comfort found when you pray specifically? Would love to hear your story in the comments!