Knowing What to Pray For
Opening my heart to God, I asked Him what to pray for in my own life. I had to actually be silent for a minute. He showed me different areas of sin. I repented of them, and I asked God to help me overcome them.
Then I chose one family member, and I lifted that person up to God. I asked how to pray for that person. I was silent. Items for prayer came to me one by one. I spent a lot of time on one person, waiting and praying. I pictured that person in my mind. I prayed about 6-10 prayer requests for each person.
I was so excited about the insights that God was giving me into the lives of the people I loved. The keys were silence and an open heart.
I decided to share some of the prayer requests that God had given me with my dad. I wrote him a letter about my struggle with prayer. I listed prayer requests for my mom and three sisters.
A few days later, I got a phone call. It was my mom. She was surprised by how good my prayer requests were. She asked if she could photocopy them for my sisters. I said yes.
The phone rang a few days later. It was my sister Nancy. “How did you know all these prayer requests about me? I didn't even know these things myself. If all these prayer requests came true, it would be wonderful!”
The prayer requests that God gave me were spiritual. They were not to change circumstances, but to change character. God showed me the wounds of my family, and the outcome of those wounds if they weren't healed. God showed me the sin, and I would pray for the positive character quality.
Instead of asking God to help my son stop being exasperating, I asked God to give him diligence and emotional maturity, for example. I also asked God that I would react differently to my son. I prayed for my own character, and I saw exasperating situations as wonderful opportunities for spiritual growth. It changed the way I viewed life.
Scriptural commands can be prayed into people's lives. If a woman is married, you can pray that she will submit to her husband, and that her husband will shepherd her. You could pray that they would have a fun and refreshing unity in their marriage.
You already know a lot of problems that people have. Instead of praying for the removal of trials, pray that their reaction to the trial would be to draw closer to God and be transformed in an area of sin. Scripture says that this is the reason trials come – that God put them there on purpose for a reason. Instead of asking for our will to be done, ask that God do the work that He was planning to do, and to maximize the amount of growth in our lives.
Pastors and missionaries get spiritually attacked more than normal people, because when they fall, many people fall. Pray for your pastor. Pray that he would overcome sin, be humble, learn something fresh about God, and not be selfish with his family. All pastors and missionaries struggle with these things. They are humans that are trapped in the flesh just like we are.
So what are the results of prayer? Does it do anything?
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