My family knows me for my prayer life — talking to God in the kitchen or walking through the house. I enjoy the ongoing relationship I have with Him that way. But recently God pulled the floor out from under me: He said, Pray specifically. My habit has been to praise Him, thank Him for what’s going on in my day, ask for His guidance in my family.
But He told me that when I get specific with Him, it deepens the relationship. It puts my heart on the line. For example, I typically thank Him for the amazing life He’s given me, for my family, for how He has provided so lovingly for us these many years. While these prayers are beautiful, I can say them with little thought–and with no risk. I’ve considered this to be “praying without ceasing,” I Thessalonians 5:17. But I can easily totter into what Jesus warned against: “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.” Matthew 6:7. I wasn’t quite babbling, but close.
My reluctance to specific prayer has been that I don’t want to tell God what to do. He’s not here to answer my to-do list. Instead, God invites me to be fully present when I pray. To ask for specific leading in my son’s new marriage, or to thank Him for my other son’s job, or to let tears fall as I remember a sweet incident when I was seven–something too personal to write here. I ask God to remind my daughter that He is her first love, in case she’s forgotten. I hear myself say, “Lord, I pray specifically…” and we smile together, because He knows I am responding to Him.
When I ask Him to speak directly into my husband’s current circumstance, to return my sister’s heart to Him, to become undeniably real in the child’s life–this requires pouring my heart out to Him. Yes, that’s it. He wants my specifically focused, fully present heart, poured out to Him. Ah. I want that too! Nothing could be sweeter.