1. Be certain that what you are praying for is God’s will; therefore, find the will of God in the Bible, and then pray specifically according to His will. As an example, let’s say that you feel a lack of peace and satisfaction in your life, and you want to pray for something that will give you that satisfaction. For some people, they may determine that if they had a new car or a new house or maybe even a new wife (or husband) they would then begin to experience satisfaction; and so they would pray to that end. But to pray with a certainty that your prayers are according to God’s will, I suggest that you search the scriptures to see what God says about how to be satisfied.
What you will find is that our satisfaction does not come from things, or even from human relationships, but from the person of God; for Psalms 16:11 tells us that in His presence is fullness of joy, and in His right hand there are pleasures forever. Also in Psalms 73:25 David declares rightly, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee I desire nothing on earth.”
2. If you are not certain of God’s will you can still pray specifically by asking questions. And when you ask questions try to be as specific as you can. Obviously, if you don’t have any idea what God wants you to do then all you can pray is, “Lord show me what to do.” And He will. But if you have some knowledge of His will then your prayer can be more specific. Or if you have an idea of what He wants you to do, but you are not sure, then talk to Him about your ideas and ask Him to show you if any of your ideas are His ideas. A good example of this is in 1 Samuel 23: 1-8.
3. Pray according to the leading of the Spirit. If you want to learn how to pray better—that is, more specifically—you must learn how to walk in the Spirit. For the Spirit filled man is one who knows the heart and mind of God.
4. Be more businesslike in your praying. After all, prayer is a business. It is God’s business, and He has entrusted us to run it. Just as in any business, in the prayer business there are many things to do. There are people to get to know. There are people to love and care for. Then there are prayer requests to find out. And there are prayer meetings to call. It is also helpful to keep a record of all the prayer requests, and especially God’s answers. All these things, and all the work involved in the prayer business will help to motivate you to a greater prayer urgency and desire, and will even help you to be more specific in your prayers. For when you regard prayer as a business, you will have a more businesslike frame of mind, and you will pay more attention to details; hence, it will follow that your prayers will become more specific.
5. Weed out all indefinite prayers. Narrow your prayer list down to just those requests you are sure to be His will.
6. Establish not only desire but also the will to receive answers. Prayer is sparked with desire, but to receive the things we desire we must will them. As Andrew Murray has said, “The prayer of faith which Jesus sought to teach His disciples does not simply proclaim its desire and then leave the decision to God… the prayer of faith, finding God’s will in some promise of the Word, pleads for that promise until it comes.”
This post is an excerpt from Principles of Prayer.