There is a big difference between praying God’s heart for a situation and praying from our heart. When we hear of a situation our response is quite often to pray out of our own compassion for the situation. This is certainly important and there is nothing wrong in praying out of our compassion, after all that compassion is a God-given gift to us so we should use it. But there are times when the Lord allows a situation to develop because he has a greater purpose. If we are too quick to jump into prayer we could miss what God wants to do.
In John 11 we find the account of how Lazarus was brought back to life. But if Jesus had stepped into prayer as soon as he heard the news of Lazarus being sick, if he had prayed out of his compassion for his sick friend then the outcome might have been different. Lazarus may have been heard, which would have given glory to God but not in the same way as the glory which came from bringing Lazarus back to life.
Jesus did not jump into praying for Lazarus until he had checked in with the Father as to what the Father wanted to do in the situation. Jesus said that he only did what he saw the father doing (John 5:19). Out of that checking with the father, Jesus waited till Lazarus had died before going to visit with the result that Lazarus was raised back to life and God was glorified.
Pausing to pray “How do you want me to pray about this situation, Father?” allows the Lord to direct us onto his path and purpose for a situation. His directions may be quite different from we would expect…
The Lord told Gideon he had too many men, even when they were vastly outnumbered by the Midianites (Judges 7:2).
Naaman was told through the prophet Elisha to go wash seven times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:10).
Hosea was instructed to take for himself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness (Hosea 1:2).
None of these people expected the directions they received in prayer. But God had a greater plan and purpose which he wanted to see happen.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
So when we step into that place of prayer with all our thoughts and ideas about how things should unfold, one of the most important things we can do is to pause and pray…
“Father, how do you want me to pray for this situation?” Then listen and follow his direction.