We all want our prayers to be effective. After all, why even bother praying if they aren’t? I don’t mean to imply that we should always get what we ask for, but seeing only minimal or no results can be quite discouraging, can’t it? I know – I’ve been there. This has led me to analyze how I pray, and I’ve come to some startling conclusions about some of my prayers.
On closer inspection, I found that some of my petitions were so vague, they were practically useless. They even reflected an unbelief in God’s clear promises. I’m sure God understood what I meant to say, but could it be that my ambiguity impacted his ability to answer? I’m sure it didn’t help! Since this discovery, I’ve changed the way I pray. What are these prayers that I would dare to call meaningless?Glad you asked! Well, here we go.
- Lord, please be with ….
What has God promised his children? I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5) How can God even answer such a prayer since he’s already present in their lives? I know, I know, we probably mean something else – then why not say it? Instead of such meaningless words, I now pray for someone to experience or have a revelation of God’s presence. There are many reasons why a person might not feel God in his or her life, and I pray against those things. And if someone isn’t a child of God, then I pray for their salvation.
- Lord, please have mercy on ….
Such a prayer really implies that God may or may not want to give mercy. But if there is one thing that is clear in the New Testament, it’s that God has already poured out his mercy through Jesus Christ. We don’t need to ask for mercy, because God is merciful, and his mercy is available to everyone through the work of Christ on the cross. Unfortunately, not everyone receives it. What we need to do is fight in prayer against all the barriers that keep a person from experiencing God’s mercy.
- Lord, please give peace to ….
In John 14:27 Jesus declares that he has already given his peace to his followers. Why ask for something that we already have? How can God even answer? Now, there are certainly many occasions when I don’t feel God’s peace. When that happens, I pray for God to remove all the obstacles that keep me from experiencing it. I might even have to rebuke the fears and doubts that come against me. But I always thank God that his peace is already within me.
My purpose in sharing these thoughts is not to belittle anyone, but to simply challenge us to think about how we pray and what words we use. The spiritual battle around us is fierce, and our prayers need to be well-honed weapons in the fight!