“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
Read Mark 10:46-52
In this story Jesus encounters a blind man who wishes to be healed. He cries out for mercy but Jesus does not heal him immediately. It is only when the man expresses his exact need that Jesus heals him.
When we pray God wants to know exactly what we want. Sometimes when we pray, we don’t even know what we want. When we pray for something very general like to be blessed, how do we know when God has answered our prayer? When God asks, “What do you want?” we should be able to respond to the question by telling God specifically what we want.
Andrew Murray offers 5 questions we should ask ourselves before praying.
- What is really my desire?
- Do I desire it in faith, expecting to receive an answer?
- Am I ready to present it to the Father and leave it in his hands?
- Is there an agreement between God and me that I will get an answer?
- Am I in agreement with myself – body, soul, & spirit – that I will receive an answer?
By answering these questions, it helps us to avoid vague and pointless praying. We will not be heard simply because we have many words, but it is rather telling God exactly what we need and fully expecting that he will supply that need.
Want vs. Wish
How many times do our prayers simply come out like a wish list for God? Do we say, “God, I really wish that you would heal my aunt.”? Or do we say, “God I want you to heal my aunt and I know that you have the power to do so.”? God may have a higher purpose in mind by not healing your aunt but when we ask we should have the understanding that God can do it if it is His will.
While we don’t know God’s specific will in everything, we already know what His will is in a lot of things. It is His desire that we grow closer to Him. It is His will for people to be saved. It is His will to see our entire church grow spiritually. When you pray for things like this, you should expect that the answer is already yes. It may not be instantaneous and it may take work on our part. If we pray for growth in our churches, God may answer that by calling us to work harder.
Not knowing what to pray for
Sometimes we simply don’t know what to pray for. We know we need to grow spiritually but don’t really know where. We know a family member is hurting but don’t know if it is a spiritual issue, or a physical one. God still answers our prayers even when we don’t quite know what to ask.
Romans 8:26-27: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
God still knows even when we don’t know what the problem is. When we pray specifically we need to pray powerfully, expecting the prayer to be answered. And when we don’t even know what to pray, we still need to expect that God understands our needs better than we do.
Adapted from With Christ in the School of Prayer