I heard a pastor explain James’ critique of believers’ envy and back-biting as symptoms


  • What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:1-2

Hmm, that caught my attention!  We fight because we want something someone else has?  Instead we could actually ask God?  Who’d a thunk!  Question is: why don’t we ask God?

Maybe because we are embarrassed by our requests?  They aren’t spiritual enough?

….or maybe it’s because we haven’t learned to form MEASURABLE requests.

Excuse the following humorous/non-spiritual cartoon that illustrates the idea of measurable:

The point is, it does little good to just say, “Dear Lord, please bless this situation.”  How do we know if He has blessed it?  How do we know if and when God answers that petition?

I learned in Bible Study Fellowship to formulate prayer requests in this specific way:

  • Dear Lord, please give me wisdom so I can make a decision about X by Tuesday.  May I not fret while I’m considering alternatives, but trust You.  Superintend the whole process and once I have come to a decision, remind me NOT to second guess my decision.  And if the decision I make is not what You would have for me, then shut the door definitively and guide my steps.  I am trusting You when You say that we plan our way, but You direct our steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
  • Dear Lord, please make Mike’s calls fruitful this week.  May his contacts with potential clients result in encouragement for him and a new next step he can take.
  • Dear Lord, may our son and his family make their connections tomorrow as they travel from Podunck to Big City. May the little ones be calm on the airplane and fall asleep.  Seat around them kind passengers who like little kids.  May their luggage arrive on the same plane. Give them a spirit of flexibility for any unplanned events.  May they retain their sense of humor.

This kind of concrete praying makes trusting God an adventure.  And once God answers, you can rejoice and praise Him and pass on to others how God came through.  I was at Ingles grocery store on Thursday doing my weekly shopping.  I only wanted to spend $190 to stretch my grocery dollars.  So I prayed for restraint and God’s intervention in my choices.  And when the cashier, a high school senior, rang up the total, it came to $191.  “Not bad!” I thought.  But then my Ingles shoppers’ card did its thing and the adjusted total dropped to $186!!  

I immediately shared with the teen how I had prayed and how faithful God was to answer! “Isn’t that cool,” I finished up, “We can ask God for specific, every-day needs!”  Who knows if she is a believer, but at least God gets the credit!

Finally, for other tips to praying concretely, here is a blog post about praying LITTLE bite-sized requests.  I like what the author says.

Faith-sized Requests