A Different Prescription For Prayer

In Matthew 20, Jesus shares a parable, predicts his death, teaches about serving, and heals two blind men.  Nowhere does he mention prayer, yet in this chapter I see two insights about prayer.

First, the mother of James and John makes a request of Jesus (Matthew 20:20-22). She asks if her sons can be given places of honor, sitting on Jesus’ left and right.  Jesus’ response is, “You don’t know what you are asking!”

I suspect that many of our prayers evoke the same response, “You don’t know what you are asking.” 

Just as James and John’s mother did not have a right understanding of Jesus’ purpose and intent, missing God’s perspective, so to, we often miss God’s intent and fail to see his perspective.  As such our prayers are off base, asking for the wrong things, which are inconsequential.

In the account of the blind men being healed (Matthew 20:29-34), the men boldly call out for Jesus to have mercy on them.  When Jesus hears them, he asks, “What do you want?” 

They have already asked for mercy, but Jesus wants them to be specific.  As soon as they ask to see, he gives them their sight.

How often do we make a general request for God’s blessing, mercy, or grace?  These are vague, non-expectant petitions.  When making such a plea, how can we ever realize the answers?  When our requests are specific, the answers become obvious — and praiseworthy.

So, when we pray, it should be specific and it should be with God’s perspective in mind.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at