I’m Not Praying for That

by Joanna Pierce on May 08, 2019

I recently heard a Christian comedian say when he’s asked to pray for certain requests, he mentally responds, “I’m not praying for that.” He wasn’t being a heartless individual—he just wasn’t sure it was ethical to use up Heaven’s prayer-waves asking for someone’s child to win at a karate tournament.

I really laughed at this one because there is so much more to this notion—our willingness to (or not to) pray for requests. I believe most people really have a heart to pray for others’ needs. However, I find myself retracting more often than not, apprehensive to pray for a request. Instead, I find myself questioning, is that really what we should ask for?

And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them (Jonah 1:13–14, KJV, emphasis added).

Jonah was trying to escape God’s directive, and found himself on a boat in the middle of the sea with a crew of sailors. Due to his disobedience, God stirred up a storm, almost capsizing the boat and entire passenger manifest. Jonah confessed he was responsible for their predicament and instructed the crewmates to toss him overboard. But, the men couldn’t bring themselves to harm him; instead they tried to make it safely to land.

Often enough, someone presents a dire need in their life. We’re quick to see the severity, and without hesitation hit our knees in prayer to approach the throne of God. We ask for the Lord’s intervention and that He would do a quick work. But, what if what we’re praying for isn’t actually God’s will?

To the sailors, saving Jonah’s life (and theirs) was priority number one. They didn’t listen when Jonah told them to cast him in the sea. Even through his disobedience, Jonah still relayed God’s present will.

This is very similar as to what happens when we ask God to complete a work that’s in direct opposition to His will. We see the situation with only our own eyes and emotion and our prayer is a knee-jerk reaction. The sailors weren’t wrong to show compassion for Jonah, but it wasn’t God’s will for him to go anywhere else! No matter how hard they rowed, they couldn’t move because God was against them.

Soon, the men cried out to God, asking for their lives to be spared. They realized throwing Jonah overboard would actually please God because it was His will (Jonah 1:14). If they hadn’t changed their course of action, I’m not sure God wouldn’t have sunk them all. When they tried to row to shore and kept Jonah aboard, they were working against God and His will. That is a scary place for anyone to be.

It’s difficult to realize that sometimes the hardships of those around us are God’s will. But, we can’t put ourselves in the middle of their storm by praying for something that’s contrary to God’s will. We don’t want our prayers to work against God and definitely don’t want to be caught in His wrath. Praying for God’s will takes wisdom. Seek to know what God’s desire is for the situation and then pray exactly that.

The comedian’s words have some truth. “I’m not praying for that” can become “I’m praying for this.” We’ll know the “this” when we seek and know the will of our Father. PS—Don’t take the easy way out by saying, “I’ll just pray for God’s will.” Figure out His will in prayer, agree with it, and pray for it!