My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Jesus says powerful things about praying specifically. Remember the example Jesus uses of the man who says, “Friend, lend me three loaves”? The request was specific. Sometimes, I tend to get lazy in prayer. Prayer becomes an exercise in reminding God of a list of names and asking Him to bless those on the list. Then, I feel like I’ve obeyed God by praying. Of course, this isn’t the only prayer I offer. I also check in with God during the day as needs arise, but as far as meaningful intercession, my prayers often don’t go beyond … “God bless them.” I think to myself, “After all, isn’t this consistent with just letting God be God and do what He wants to do.” Then, I realize, “No, this is really consistent with laziness.” If we don’t pray specifically, how will we know when our prayers are answered?
God delights in making it abundantly clear that He is at work doing things that would be impossible for us. I was blessed to grow up watching others pray very specifically and to look for the evidence of God’s work in precise situations.
When I was fourteen, a man, who became a very close friend and mentor, had come back from the mission field with his family and was living in Montreat. They had been moving from house to house for quite some time, because they didn’t have a place of their own. They had three young children and wanted a place to settle.
As my friend looked around for houses, he saw a beautiful house for sale on Virginia Road. He was very drawn to this house, but he knew he couldn’t afford it. During his prayer time, he sensed God nudging him to pray anyway. But, he felt confused.
Every time he prayed that God would give him the house on Virginia Road, he sensed God saying, “Yes.” But, every time he mentioned the owner of the house or the street number, he sensed the Lord saying, “No.” Perplexed, he limited himself to persistent prayer that God would give him “the house on Virginia Road.”
God had a house on Virginia Road, but not the one he was praying for. The house God gave him was bigger and better equipped to handle the crowds who would be coming for worship and Bible study through the years. Though the house he moved into was much nicer than the one he had originally wanted, he was able to buy it on much more favorable terms, well below its true value. God miraculously provided funds for him to move into the house and even sent an interior decorator who provided beautiful furnishings for the whole house. After years of sacrificial living, this family was overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from those who had been blessed through their ministry. God loves to bless!
God wants us to pray specifically, but God also wants us to pray with sensitivity, listening to His voice, waiting on Him for direction, so that increasingly our will and God’s will come into sync. As we’re praying, we enthusiastically say, “Your will be done. Lord, I want what you want. I want you to accomplish your will, your plan, and your purpose in my life.” This kind of surrender to Him becomes an increasingly beautiful reflection of His grace.
Do you realize that God loves you far more than you love yourself? Do you realize that He knows your needs before you ask and wants you to pray so that you’ll draw closer to Him? Are you ready to trust Him and start thanking Him before you see the answer?
Book – “Hearing His Voice”
The Life of PRAYER, book 2