“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. Mark 10:51

The Lord is still asking us that question. So many times I have been guilty of vague, open-ended prayers. These are the prayers of a coward. A coward makes his prayers nice and vague so that he can claim anything as an answer. He can use that same obfuscation to excuse the lack of effectiveness in his prayer. Either way, he’s covered himself.

In the French language, the verb “to love” and the verb “to like” are the same. This is surprising in a language that is known for its precision. English may have a dozen words that mean pretty much the same thing but when a Frenchman speaks, he generally does so with precision and emphasis except…in matters of love. He can say “Je t’aime” to a girl and mean either he likes her in the same way he likes peanut butter and jelly, or that he loves her with a passion as deep as the ocean and as powerful as the volcano Krakatoa. This is handy in trying to get a girl to kiss you without involving yourself in a potentially messy, personal long-term relationship.

Are you deliberately obtuse with the Lord? Do you dally with words as you pretend to pray? When you pray, are you really praying to God or to the mere mortals who may be listening to you? Think carefully before you answer because your reply will make all the difference between becoming a powerful prayer warrior and a 95-pound weakling. One of the first steps to overcoming the barriers between you and the Lord is to develop brutal self-evaluation.

Do not make vague appeals for God’s mercy. Do not pray for “All the missionaries out there”. Pray for specific needs. Ask for specific things. Name names. See the person’s face as you pray for them. Don’t just ask for a building for your church. Ask for a specific size, ask for a type of architecture, think about all the church’s future needs and anticipate them in your prayers. How many classes? How large a choir loft? How many bathrooms? How many parking places?

You may find that as you pray, the answer lies within you. You may realize that you are the answer to those prayers. Maybe you are a carpenter, an engineer, or a really good cook who can invite people over to your house to find solutions to the questions raised during your prayers. Maybe (gasp) God may tell you to donate toward the building. But you will never know God’s will if you stick to milque-toast prayers. Your answers will only be as clear and definite as your prayers.