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What is intentional and specific prayer? What does it look like? How can we change our prayer life to be more intentional and specific? What must we do?
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First, I want to look at the two key words in this phrase: intentional and specific. Something that is intentional is done on purpose. It is not haphazard, fit it in when I can or praying for whatever crosses my mind at that moment. It is purposeful. It is taking aim at a target and hitting it.
Something that is specific is precise, clear-cut, and explicit. It is not vague or undefined. It is clearly stated. In terms of praying, this means your prayers (and mine) should be more than just ‘bless my pastor,’ or ‘heal the sick.’ Those are vague, non-specific prayers.
An Example of Intentional and Specific Prayer
Imagine having 300 children to feed and no food. Only prayer. That was the situation that George Mueller (1805-1898) often found himself in. In one instance, after offering a prayer of thanksgiving for a breakfast that did not exist, a baker showed up at the orphanage George Mueller ran with fresh bread. Almost immediately, a milkman knocked on the door and informed Mr. Mueller that his wagon had broken down and the milk he was delivering would spoil unless the orphanage could use it. The children were fed.
This is perhaps the most famous example of God miraculously answering George Mueller’s intentional and specific prayer. However, reading a biography of this godly man will show that it was far from the only example. While there are several to choose from, this classic is the one I read many years ago. His example continues to inspire me.
A Biblical Example of Intentional and Specific Prayer
Jesus knew the value of intentional and specific prayer. He commended it in the parable of the Unjust Judge in Luke 18. In case you’re unfamiliar with the parable, here is a summary:
A widow came before a judge who “did not fear God and did not respect man.” She was persistent in asking for “legal protection.” She came to him repeatedly, intentionally and specifically, to ask for justice. The judge? He said, “Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.” Jesus commended the widow for her persistent, intentional, and specific prayer. He further assured His listeners – and us – that God will “bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night.”
In Luke 11, Jesus also commends this type of prayer – specific (three loaves of bread) and intentional (because a friend has come at midnight). It is notable that in both parables a third characteristic – besides intentional and specific – is persistent. If your prayers are continually focused on explicit needs and desires (Psalm 37:4), you will see miracles taking place because of your prayers. Just don’t miss the miracle, mistaking it for coincidence or fate.
Intentional and Specific Prayer Guides
About six months ago (late 2017) I started a series on 20 Ways to Pray. The goal of that series was to create intentional prayer guides that could be used for a month, with some grace days built in.
These posts led to the creation of an ebook, freely available to anyone who wished to also receive my bi-weekly email letter. The ebook included both the complete list and a list condensed to one page.
I have recently finished updating that ebook and wanted to share it with all of you. It is available in my brand-new Resource Library. If you already are receiving my bi-weekly letters, the password will be sent out on July 27. If you don’t want to wait, just sign up again, and you’ll get the password immediately. You won’t get the newsletter twice!
There is a lot of other great stuff in the Resource Library – my Bible Reading Log, 10 Tips for Your Quiet Time, and my Date Jar printable among other things. All the freebies I make, going forward from here, will go in the Resource Library. I hope you enjoy this new resource. And I hope you get the prayer guides if you don’t have them yet – to be praying intentionally and specifically!