"Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. Elijah was a human being like us; yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the earth produced its fruit."
- James 5:13-18
It's pretty clear that we should be praying about anything and everything in our lives, whether it is good or bad. I have been pointed to some Scripture on prayer through our study on James, and I have really been struggling with thinking about how I should pray to recently. I know from the Bible that my prayers will be answered:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8
"Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive."
- Matthew 21: 22
"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you."
However, it's this quote that has really caused me to question the way I pray: "And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours." (1 John: 14-15). So it seems like there is a stipulation here. We will receive what we ask for IF it is "according to his will."
This causes me to wonder if I should pray for my own desires. Should I pray that I get a certain job that I really want? Or should I instead pray that God's will be done and that I have peace with whatever he has planned? If someone I love has a terrible health condition, should I pray for that person to get better? Or should I instead pray that the Lord's will be done and that the person and their family are given peace with what his plan is? Perhaps the suffering is intended to draw us closer to God. Perhaps the situation going a completely different way than we had hoped or prayed for is meant to strengthen our relationship with God. He does know what is best for us, so that's what's leading me more and more to believe that it is probably best to pray in a way that asks for God's will to be done rather than to pray for a certain situation to happen.
What do you think? How do you pray when you pray for specific intentions for yourself? How do you pray when others ask you to pray for their intentions?