I am praying for a friend of mine who needs a transplant. I have been praying for her every day. Usually I pray that she will be able to have her surgery quickly and that it will be a success. But the other day I stopped in the middle of my prayer to consider what I was really asking.
When I pray for her to have her transplant quickly, am I praying that someone else will die? In order to receive the organs she needs, that is what needs to happen. Should I be praying for that? Maybe I should pray for a miracle of healing instead. Perhaps I should have started praying for her years ago when she was smoking because I’m sure that is part of the problem now.
Asking for someone to be healed or to change is common in my prayer life. Prayers for healing are the number one thing I pray for. But maybe I am asking for the wrong things for people. After all, what good is health if your spirit is sick? Maybe facing death will bring a person to Christ – something that is better than being healed physically.
And what about ourselves? What are we asking for in prayer for ourselves? Young King Solomon prayed for wisdom – and then abandoned the gift in his old age. I often pray the prayer found in the song “Day By Day.” “Three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly.”
In Proverbs 30:8-9, the writer asks for two things: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; and give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” I like this prayer because it recognizes the dangers of riches, poverty, and lies.
When we pray, are we asking for the things that really matter? Do we pray for things of eternal significance? It is okay to pray for our daily needs and the needs of others. Jesus told us to do so. But we need to consider what our daily needs mean for the long term. A wise person once told me not to pray for things for myself if I couldn’t pray for them for anyone. Meaning I shouldn’t ask for things that I wouldn’t want God to bless everyone with.
God wants us to be faithful – and thoughtful – in our prayer lives. He knows what we need and wants to provide it. And he appreciates us asking – if we are asking for the things that really matter.
What’s on your prayer list? How do you pray for others? What are you asking for yourself?