The Who, What, and Why of Our Prayers
The first part of this question is easier to answer than the second. Of course we know whom we are praying for, but do we know the why? What is the real motive? And then there’s the “what”, which is often more common and much closer to the heart. Before you object to this, take a look at your prayer list if you have one. Divide the “who’s” from the “what’s,” and analyze them. How many people are on your prayer list? Or is it just “blessings, protection, provision, healing, etc.” for yourself and yours?
Our prayer is often fueled by emotions such as worry, fear or anxiety. Have you noticed that personal prayers definitely increase in intensity when you are emotionally struggling?
So then the question might be, what fuels our prayers? If it is primarily emotional distress, the entire foundation of our prayers may be wrong. Conversely, our prayer time is often reduced when we prosper! This would suggest a very selfish basis for most prayers.
Before we leave the “what,” be assured that bringing your needs to God is acceptable and proper. Jesus said, “Ask in my name, in faith, and I will do it, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” This concept of glory to God is found 23 times in the book of John.
So when you pray for the “what,” how will the Father be glorified or how will you choose to glorify God when the answer comes? The focus is faith in God for your provision so that God is honored. The benefit to you is secondary and is not really the focus of these prayers.
Now we come to the “who” of our prayers. If Jesus came to save people who don’t know Him, then praying by name for lost people should be a function of all Christ followers. Jesus prayed for unity in the “family of God,” so this too should be important to us. Paul taught us to pray that our understanding would be opened to see what Christ has provided. That too would be proper.
The “why” of our prayers should be simple. That the world might be saved, that the church may be one, and that the believers would see and encounter Christ in His fullness.
These are the prayers God desires and will answer. You can add the many needs of health, direction and provision, but they are a distant second to God’s agenda. I strongly believe more things would happen in the lives of those we pray for if we were praying for God’s agenda first- people, people, people! The “what’s” should follow.
We are to seek the kingdom of God first and His righteousness, and not worry about the other “stuff.” As Kingdom power and righteousness grows in our lives, there will be miraculous provision and changes. But God’s agenda – the souls of men – must be first in our prayers! Lift them up by name. Call their names before the throne of God. Ask for the Holy Spirit to come and reveal Jesus to people – by name. This is the heart of God – let’s pray it out!