I wanted to share one piece of advice on prayer that has been helpful to me lately. I simply call it “learning to pray specifically.”
Having listened to thousands of prayers throughout my life and ministry, one day I realized how most prayers we offer are very generic. Once I noticed it, then I began to listen to my own prayers. Without even realizing it I found that most of my prayers had become very unspecific. I understand that this could happen to any Christian. So let me encourage you.
1. Ask for What You Want
Be Direct. Be Honest. Be specific.
-Don’t just pray to resist sin. Pray that you will not fall to the sin of pornography on your computer. Pray you will have strength to stand against the devil. Pray you will have the power to resist temptation. Pray for those moments you are alone with the internet.
-Don’t just pray for your marriage. Pray that God will give you the right words to say to your spouse without being accusatory so as to build your marriage. Pray that tonight you will find 15 minutes to talk deeply.
-Don’t just pray for your spiritual life to grow. Ask God to bless the 10 minutes you have to read your Bible today. Ask him to reveal something new for you to understand. Ask him to show you clearly how to apply what you know.
-Don’t just pray. Be specific. What are you hoping that God will do? What do you really want?
2. Tell God How You Feel
As I read the Psalms, I am always impressed at how David didn’t hold anything back. It makes sense, though. If we serve an all-knowing God, then he knows how you feel already. But like a good parent, he wants you to vocalize it so that you can work through your issues.
-Tell God you are hurting.
-Tell God how much you hate yourself right now.
-Tell God the anger you feel toward that person.
-Tell him, tell him, tell him how you feel.
Then ask him to work through your feelings.
Having those feelings are not the issue, the problem is when you do not work through those feelings. Unresolved feelings of anger leave you feeling bitter. Feelings of unworthiness can lead to depression. Share your feelings with God and work through them so that you can find the healing you need.
Obviously, these are not the types of prayers you shout out on Sunday morning before the entire Church. These are the words you say in private to God. Jesus indicates that is where our prayers are the most effective anyway (Matthew 6:5-6).
I hope the next time you pray you will be open and honest. God can handle it, and you need it.