“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” – Luke 11:11-13.
Some of our politicians speak in vague terms. They like questions — just not always answers. A seasoned politician avoids troubling questions by ignoring them, or talking in vague generalizations. The more vague the better. The devil is in the details for the politician so they avoid them. For some politicians, vague is always in vogue. But what happens when we as followers of Jesus Christ are vague in our communication with our risen Savior? What happens when our prayers are too general?
Prayer is our direct line with heaven. Prayer is a communication process that allows us to talk to God. He wants us to communicate with Him, like a person-to-person phone call. To many people, prayer seems complicated, but it is simply talking to God. God wants us to pray because prayer expresses our trust in God and is a means to increase our trust in Him. In fact, perhaps the primary emphasis of the Bible’s teaching on prayer is that we are to pray with faith.
But how much faith does it take to pray for general things. Praying for the vague or undefined is a kind of window shopping without knowing what we actually want to buy. It is easy to pray in generalities, using a shotgun approach to present God with several requests.
For example, the church staff could pray and ask God to “please bring new people to church Sunday.” The problem is how would we know He did. When we pray vaguely, there is no way to know if God answered. But what if we prayed “Lord, bring 100 new people to the Northstar campuses on Sunday?” If 100 or more new people attend one of our campuses that Sunday, we would know that God hears and answered our prayers. When we pray vaguely we don’t give God the chance to really answer our prayers in a powerful way. I heard somebody say that, “bold prayers honor God, God honors bold prayers.”
Would 100 people be a bold prayer? My answer would be yes. But I also have learned that we tend to dream small because we don’t want to ask God for too much. But the crazy thing is, God is not offended by our bold prayers. God is honored when we ask for something that is beyond our ability to accomplish. Why? Because there is no way we can take credit for it.
I challenge you to stop praying vague prayers. Pray specifically. Don’t be afraid to pray big and bold prayers, they honor God. And then when God answers, give Him all the glory.
- Do you enjoy praying? Why or why not?
- When have you known the most effective times of prayer in your own life? What factors contributed to making those times more effective? Which other factors need most attention in your prayer life? What can you do to strengthen each of these areas?
- Do you have a regular time each day for private Bible reading and prayer? Are you sometimes easily distracted and turned aside to other activities? If so, how can distractions be overcome?
- How could you be more bold and specific in your prayers this week?