We often pray in generalities.
Sometimes we pray like that because we don’t want to expect “too much” from God. Other times it is because we don’t want to do the hard work of getting specific.
George Mueller prayed specifically.
He prayed to God about financial matters.
One time, George wanted to buy a certain piece of land to build an orphan house on. Unfortunately, the owner wanted to sell it at a much greater cost than he could afford, so he went to prayer. He prayed several times a day about this specific matter. After several weeks of prayer, the owner consented to sell the land at the cost George had been praying for. (Steer, p.183)
He cried out to God for physical needs. When he lost a key, he would pray to God to help him find it. When someone did not show up for an appointment, he prayed that the person would come quickly. (Answers to Prayer, p.32)
He did not view anything as too small to pray for. One of his favorite young friends once came to him and told him that she wished God would answer her prayers like He did his. He repeated to her God’s promise to listen to His children. So she sat on his knee and he asked her what she wanted to pray for. He prayed with her that God would send her some wool. She ran outside to play, but then realized that she hadn’t asked God what kind of wool she wanted. She ran back inside to Mueller. ‘I want to pray again.’ ‘Not now, dear, I am busy.’ ‘But I forgot to tell God what color I wanted.’ Taking her up on his knee again, Mueller said, ‘That’s right, be definite, my child, now tell God what you want.” That was Mueller’s practice in prayer: He was definite and he told God what he wanted.
We have every reason to do the same.
We can and should pray about specific issues, even about small issues because we serve a God who tells us He is concerned about the small specific issues of life. To prove that, Jesus tells us to think about birds. What could be more inconsequential than a sparrow? Who has ever woken up in the middle of the night crying out, “Oh no, there is one less sparrow in the world today?” Sparrows seem much too small and unimportant for us to be concerned about. Yet, Jesus tells, God is intimately involved in the life and death of the everyday sparrow. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.”
We can and should pray about specific issues, even about small issues because by doing so we demonstrate our trust in God for all things. We claim to have trusted God with our eternal salvation, yet we often don’t trust God with the minor issues of life. If we believe God is able to take care of something as big a problem as our eternal salvation, we should demonstrate that faith by trusting him to take care of the smaller problems throughout our life in this world. One way we prove that we believe He is able to do so is by taking all of our concerns to Him in prayer.
We can and should pray about specific issues, even about small issues because in doing so we are following in the footsteps of great men of the faith. Jesus taught his disciples to pray about things as practical as their daily bread. The apostle Paul asked people to pray for him about things as specific as being able to speak clearly or to be released from prison or having confidence.
We can and should pray about specific issues, even about small issues because doing so will creat opportunities to give thanks to God for the ways He has answered prayers. When we pray in vague generalities we often don’t “see” answers to our prayers. “God help me to be more loving…” Well, yes I can kind of see how I am becoming more loving. But it is a whole lot easier to see an answer to a prayer like, “God help me to be speak compassionately to…today as I talk with her on the phone…”
It certainly is not wrong to pray in generalities, but we shouldn’t only pray in generalities. Let’s follow Mueller’s example today as we pray, and get specific!