[Column] Pray Specifically

A former social psychologist named Thomas Moriarity conducted an experiment on request. It took place at a busy restaurant in New York. A young woman entered the restaurant, placed her purse on a crowded table, and disappeared as if to place an order. One of the experimenters immediately approached the table to steal the purse. The purpose of the experiment was to observe people’s reactions. This experiment was repeated eight times and only one patron at the restaurant intervened in the theft. However, when the woman requested the patrons at the table, “Could you please watch my purse?” everyone intervened.

Now Moriarity changed the location of the experiment to a beach. This time, it was a portable radio, not a purse, which was to be stolen. Ironically the result was almost identical. 95% of the people became involved to prevent the theft when the woman asked them to simply keep an eye on the radio whereas only 20% stepped in when she made no such request. This experiment illustrates the power of a “specific request.” The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). It is important that we ask God specifically. Our prayers are not likely to be answered if they are vain repetitions. In the battle with the Amalekites, Joshua specifically asked God what seemed impossible: to cause the sun and the moon to stand still. As a result, a miracle took place in which the sun and the moon stopped for almost 24 hours (Joshua chapter 10).

Dallas Theological Seminary has once encountered the most serious financial crisis since its foundation in 1924. The creditors soon flocked to the seminary and announced that the seminary would be collateralized. On the day the seminary was to be assigned as collateral, the school officials gathered at the president’s office and prayed for God’s deliverance. Among the gathered was Harry Ironside who said a unique prayer. “Lord, we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine. Please sell some of them and send us the money.” Shortly afterwards, a Texas cattleman came into the office and said, “I just sold two carloads of cattle in Fort Worth. I’ve been trying to make a business deal go through, and it won’t work, and I feel that God is compelling me to give this money to the seminary. I don’t know if you need it or not, but here is the check.” Knowing the financial hardship of the seminary, a secretary accepted the money and gently knocked on the door of the office. President Chafer was utterly surprised because the check was for the exact amount of the school’s debt. Chafer then looked at Dr. Ironside and said, “Harry, God sold the cattle!” It is important to pray specifically. If you have already asked your needs and desires in the name of the Lord, believe that they have already been given you. Pray specifically and see the eyes of faith. Miracle will follow.

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