In my studying lately, I have been learning about the importance of definite prayer.
Meaning: clearly stated or decided, not doubtful, explicitly precise.
There are many examples in the Bible of men and women praying definite prayers.
And receiving definite answers.
One of my favourites is found in the book of Joshua.
Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
I noticed something in these verses. Joshua wasn't vague in his asking (or demanding, as it's not written as a question). He didn't say to the Sun, “Just stay up all day will you?” No. He definitely, clearly, decidedly, told the Sun to stand still upon Gibeon, and the Moon to stay in the valley of Ajalon. He told them WHERE to stay. He wasn't at all vague with his request. And God granted it and made it happen.
Another example is of Abraham’s servant, when he was sent to find a bride for Isaac.
And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast
shewed kindness unto my master.
And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they
have done drinking.
The servant asks definitely of God, even down to the exact words, and the damsel speaks those words and gives him confirmation of God's will.
Now, we might say that we're not like Joshua or Abraham's servant, and we don't have God's ear like they did. Well, we should. And we can! If we are really in the will of God, and we know that it is His perfect will, then we can be definite in demanding of God and we can expect to receive it.
Now, I'm not saying that we should demand things of God in a 'give me' spirit. Hear me out.
These men and women in the Bible that obtained definite answers from God, were walking with God. Their lives were characterised by a life of faith.
“Definite praying does not mean that you try to make God come to your viewpoint. Rather, it means finding just what the Lord wants to give you, and what He wants you to ask for, and then praying the prayer that the Holy Spirit lays on you heart.”
So, maybe I'll back up here and explain some things about indefinite prayer.
Of course, being indefinite means, not precise, not clear, vague. The opposite of definite, funnily enough.
Indefinite prayer often shows a sinful state of the heart. It is often an insincere formality. It shows that there is no burden, no urgency, no heart desire.
Indefinite prayer proves that we haven’t found the will of God, so we don't know
exactly what we should pray for.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Here in Romans, we see that we don't always know what we should pray for. Sometimes, we hesitate to ask specifically for anything, because we don't have the faith that anything will happen. Other times it's because we don't know what the will of the Lord is.
But the verses tell us that the Spirit will make intercession for us. He intercedes for us. With groanings which cannot be uttered.
Barnes puts it like this :"The Spirit greatly aids or supports us in those deep emotions, those intense feelings, those inward sighs, which cannot be expressed in language, but which he enables us to bear, and which are understood by Him that searcheth the hearts."
So, where does all this lead us? To this. Indefinite prayer is the result of not being led of the Holy Spirit. If we have grieved the Holy Spirit by our sin or have ignored His plans, we have no assurance that we are in His will and we don't know the mind of God. So, we can't be definite in our prayers.
“..........since we don't know how to pray as we ought (because we don't know the mind of God), the Holy Spirit interprets our prayers according to the intent of our hearts , and He intercedes for us so that our prayer is made to conform to the will of God. And we have this assurance . . . that for those who love the Lord and have committed their lives to the accomplishment of his purpose on earth, the Lord uses everything that comes into their lives to bring about the good He has purposed for them” R.H.
Men and women of God in the Bible that received definite answers, were being led of the Spirit. They knew what to pray for and
they expected from God their desires.
If we haven't made ourselves familiar with God's plans, through the Word of God, and found the will of God, through reading and studying and praying, by the Spirit's leading, we
cannot be definite in our prayers.
How often do we pray through our prayer list, almost by rote, letting name after name slip off our tongue, with almost no thought as to that person's real condition and how we should be praying for them. Guilty as charged.
I know it's easy to go to prayer meeting, listen to heartfelt requests, then speedily pray through our list and, Amen. We're done. But what about the Spirit's leading in our prayers. Do we pray for what God wants us to pray for? It's easy to pray out of a sense of duty or to please others
or as a matter of habit.
Sometimes, I think it would be better to cut things out of our list and really get sincere in praying specifically and definitely for fewer requests, then to prattle on meaninglessly, with no heart and no leading of the Spirit.
My desire is that God would deepen my prayer life. Help it not to be a shallow, splashing about haphazardly, type of prayer life, but a deep, focused, meaningful, Spirit led time. Centred on God's perfect will. It takes time, and quiet and focus. Sometimes, I find I just need to be still and listen for the Spirit's leading. Sitting still is hard for me. I find it hard to sit still and focus on anything, let alone what God wants to say to me. Studying is so much easier as it means DOING something. Prayer requires a stillness. Eyes closed in silent prayer. Not moving. Talking with God.
Often I don't know how to pray for something. I'm unsure how to ask or even what to ask, but I do know that I can ask God for wisdom and He will guide me to know how to pray as I ought.
And I have the confidence that if I am praying according to His will, He will hear me.
1 John 5:14
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that,
if we ask any thing according to his will,
he heareth us:
So, we shouldn't pray definitely, demanding something be done, unless we have clear leading that it is the will of God. And to find the will of God, we have to be in the Word of God.
God wants us to bring our requests to Him. He longs for us to be specific in our prayers. We know that God knows our thoughts and He knows our needs even before we bring them to Him, but He desires us to pray to Him and cry out to Him in humbleness, and ask great things of Him.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
If we pray in general, such as, “Bless me, Lord”, how will we know if He has answered?
We didn't ask definitely, and specifically to be blessed in a certain way.
Sometimes, we really are at a loss as to how to pray for something definitely, such as praying for someone and not knowing if the issue is a spiritual one or a physical one. God still hears and answers our prayers even when we are unsure how to pray. If we are walking with the Lord and have our hearts in the right place, He will answer and
we will know when He does.
I have so much to learn on this subject and I've begun to realise that I've only just skimmed the surface. There is so much more depth to praying definitely. It is fathomless.
But, if I wait on the Lord and let the Holy Spirit speak to me, I know that He will answer and lead me in
how I ought to pray.
"If you can pray a prayer that is
put there by the Holy Spirit,
then you can be bold in praying
for a definite answer."