Short But Vague Prayers (Zacharias T. Fomum)
Let us look at the following passage of the Bible: And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him.” And behold two blind men sitting by the roadside, when they heard Jesus was passing by cried out, ‘Have mercy on us Son of David!’
The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent; but they cried out the more, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ And Jesus stopped and called them, saying, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they received their sight and followed him.” (Matthew 20:29-34).
The first prayer of these blind men was, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” The second prayer of theirs was, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David.” Although the prayers were short and clear, they were vague. They were asking the Lord Jesus to have mercy on them. There were many things that the Lord Jesus could have done to show mercy to them. One of these might have been to forgive their sins. The other might have been to reach out to their material needs. Another might have been to provide for their needs of love - probably by giving each of them a wife. The other would have been to heal them of their blindness.
It is certain that the Lord understood what they were asking Him to do. However, the Lord did not act upon what He understood.He does not answer prayers on the basis of what He understands the need to be. He answers prayers on the basis of what people ask Him.Because these blind men did not specify what the Lord Jesus should do so that they should be blessed, the Lord had to ask them, “What do you want me to do for you?” It is then that they spoke clearly, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” On hearing that, the Lord Jesus acted at once, and they were healed.
l can hear the Lord Jesus whispering to many praying and shouting or screaming believers, “What do you want me to do for you?” Unfortunately, these believers are so busy shouting or screaming in words known or words unknown that they cannot hear what the Lord is saying. Because they are so “lost” in their praying that they cannot hear the Lord, the Lord is compelled to leave them alone; so that they should continue in their praying for personal emotional satisfaction, even though they will not be heard! Could this be the reason why many spend many hours in prayer and seem to go unheard? Could it be that a man can make noise through an entire night of prayer and yet go away unheard?
l have been to many prayer meetings at which someone stood up to pray. After he had talked for about ten minutes and sat down, l was not able to tell exactly what he had asked of the Lord. Because l could not understand him, even though l heard him, l kept quiet while the others were saying the ‘Amen’ after him.
Many people think that they should just pray and the Lord will sort things out and give them what He wants, and throw away the rest. They want to give God the added task of sorting things out. The first thing is to realize that we have not been encouraged in the Word of God to do that. We have been called to ask so that we might receive what we have asked. We will receive what we ask. If we ask confused things, or are confused in our asking, God will not answer us.
If your son came to you and said,
“Father, l want you to get a wife for me. l want that one who has short hair, long nails, long hair, a thin body that is tall, and she should be black and short so that she will not be taller than me. She should not have anything more than the Advanced levels, so that we might enjoy intellectual compatibility; and ensure, father, that she is qualified enough to teach at the university where the salaries are good....,”
how would you answer such a son? What would you give him? Surely you love him and would want to help him to get a wife, but until he knows what he wants, how can you help him? You are compelled to wait until he knows what he wants and lets you know what he wants.
GOD WILL GIVE US WHAT WE ASK.
It is critically important that praying people should know that God will give them what they ask, and not what He knows they need. He will give them the desires of their hearts that are expressed in prayer. What is on the heart must come forth through the lips. Each believer must learn how to sort out what is on his heart, and then learn how to carry it through to the Lord. God does not only look at the heart. He is also listening to what is being said. He will do according to what we tell him. Part of the time that is put aside for prayer must be used to sort out which of our desires are God’s will. When this has been done, time must again be given to sorting out how to communicate what we have on our hearts to Him. This is because each word uttered before God is important. It should communicate.
The Lord Jesus forbade the use of many Words. He said, “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8). One reason why many words should be avoided is that the more the words used, the less clear many issues become. l have noticed at our ten-hour prayer night that when people are encouraged to pray just in one sentence, things are presented to the Lord more clearly, and everyone is more blessed than when a person prays for three, five, ten or fifteen minutes in one go. We have found that the meetings are better if a person prays very briefly, then gives room for another person to pray before he comes up again to pray. We have also found that the longer the prayers of individuals are, the more sleepy the audience becomes. So know what you want and ask it. God will give you what you ask! Ask and it will be given to you.
SINCERITY AND SHORT PRAYERS.
One reason why people use many words during prayer is because they are not sincere. Many think that by using many words, they can somehow manage to slip in a request which is questionable. This is self-deception. God cannot yield to such manipulations. It is important to be honest. Some think that they must not appear selfish in prayer. They therefore ask vague things or ask vaguely. They may want the Lord to give them a good job that is stable and well-paying. However, out of false fear of asking selfishly, they may pray, “Lord give me what you think is best for me.” God will not give you what He thinks is best for you. He will not give you what He knows is best for you. He will give you what you ask for! Therefore, throw away your caution and hypocrisy, and ask for what is on your heart.