To kick off the year at our church we are doing a deep dive into the spiritual disciplines of prayer & fasting! Over the course of the next few days & weeks I will be sharing a series of posts on developing, strengthening, & growing in your personal prayer life. If you are interested in more about fasting I shared a bit more on that HERE.
Let me start off by saying this....I fully believe in the power of prayer. I'm guessing you probably do too. But let's be honest with ourselves. Prayer is an area of your life, I know it is in my life, that you could do a better job in.
When it comes to prayer there are two big prayer mistakes that I believe many tend to make. I believe for many of us that our prayers are often too small & too general.
"Our prayers are often too small & too general."
MISTAKE #1 OUR PRAYERS ARE OFTEN TOO SMALL.
Think back to the prayers you prayed over the past few weeks of 2020. I have found over the the years that when people pray out loud publicly they often tell on themselves. Meaning, you can learn a lot about how a person views and comes to God based on the level of thing & specificity of what they bring to God.
Let me ask you a question: If God answered every prayer you prayed that you just thought of would the world be a better place? Would miracles have happened? What impossible things have been made possible?
If the answer is no to this question, then your prayers are too small! I try to keep a prayer journal & one chapter of my prayer journal is simply titled, "Sun Stand Still Prayers." If you don't get the reference I will explain it another day, but the basics are these are the prayers that I pray that others may think I'm crazy if they heard me praying them. All of them have one thing in common - they are impossible unless God shows up. What are you praying in your life right now that is impossible unless God shows up? Don't forget today that God is not intimated by our limitations. In fact, impossible is God's starting point!
MISTAKE #2 OUR PRAYERS ARE OFTEN TOO GENERAL.
I've heard it said & I agree that God does not answer vague prayers. It's not that "Dear Lord please feed the hungry children on the other side of the world" is a bad prayer. It's just that there is no way of ever measuring if God answers it. And if you can't measure it, it's hard to give God the Glory for it.
Specific prayers get specific results:
In Luke 18 we read about a blind guy that hears that Jesus is close by. When Jesus gets close he begins crying out for Jesus to help him. I love Jesus response in Luke 18:41:
“What do you want me to do for you?”
Imagine just for a moment that Jesus asks you that same question today, "What do you want me to do for you?" How would you answer that question? What do you want Jesus to do for you?
Maybe you know how you would answer that question. If that's you congratulations! Most people I have asked over the years don't know what their answer would specifically be. If that's you, I think this may be helpful...
I came across an exercise a while ago in Mark Batterson's book The Circle Maker that I'm finally getting around to doing in this season that has helped me answer this question of "what do you I want Jesus to do for me?" Towards the end of his book, Batterson talks about the power of goal setting and how his goal list has now become his prayer list. He recommended putting your goals into these categories: family, influence, experiential, physical, financial, & travel. He offers a free resource you can access by clicking HERE that lists the categories and a few examples in each.
I read this quite some time ago & in this season my family & I have committed to completing this goal list. It's been a challenging but yet fun exercise to begin talking, dreaming, and praying through. I have quickly found that as I have began to pray about what to fill in the blanks with, this list has also given me a great specific prayer list that I can circle around in prayer over and over. AND, I have already had the chance to cross a few things off I have seen God answer & because it was so specific I was able to point right toward's God coming in and doing it on our behalf!
A GREAT PRAYER TO PRAY AS WE BEGIN 2021
Dear Lord, what specifically do you want me to be praying specifically for?!