Praying for the Wrong Thing

“Please pray I don’t get kicked out of my house.” When we hear a request like this, our first response is to do exactly that. We may even implore God to soften the cruel heart of the person that wants to evict such a kind soul. Later on, we learn that the person asking for prayer was being kicked out for a reason – a very good reason. Were we praying for the wrong thing?

It is not always our place to know all of the circumstances around a particular request for prayer, but God makes it very plain that praying for others is a duty we should embrace wholeheartedly. How do we know we are praying for the right thing? What if we pray for money, like they asked for, and it gets used to harm that person or others?

I’m trying a new (to me) practice in my prayer life. As a pastor’s wife, I get a lot of prayer requests. When you break it down to the bare essentials – a request for prayer means something isn’t right and the person is wanting help. So when I’m unfamiliar with a person or their situation and not sure if I’m praying for the right thing or not, I pray for what they truly need – for God to act in their lives. God knows what they really need. Perhaps getting kicked out of the house will wake them up to changes that need to be made. In the end, it could be the best answer to prayer they’ve ever had.

Some might say, oh that’s nothing but a cop out, a generic prayer. Really? What is wrong with asking for someone to be covered by the righteousness of Christ, paid for by His own blood, and allowing the Holy Spirit to move and act in their life – and praying for that person by name? Taking it a step further and saying this is what they are asking for, but God, You know what they need most and I’m asking that You meet their truest needs. Generic?

Any prayer can become generic, flippant or so casual the angels must wonder why we even bother. I’m happy to pray for people, by name. But if I don’t know the full situation (and I don’t necessarily need to know) and there isn’t someone I trust who does know the whole situation and vouches for them; I pray for that person by name that God would make Himself known in their life in the way they need most.

Prayer is a spiritual discipline, not a magic vending machine.

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