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Pray ‘Never Before’ Prayers

Is there something you haven’t asked of God? Maybe it’s time.

Pray like never before
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I want so much more. 

I’m not talking about material things, primarily (though I wouldn’t mind some new outdoor furniture and maybe a fire pit). But if you’re anything like me, you tend to be fairly content with your life, health, home, income, relationships, etc.—until something happens. Until your back starts to hurt or you’re laid off or you lose a friend. Or something else.

It’s when a part of our life falls apart that we tend to be driven to prayer, right? “God, heal.” “Lord, restore.” And so on. 

One of the most haunting verses of Scripture is James 4:2 in which the author says, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (NIV). Or, as the more rhythmic King James Version puts it, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.”  

Wow. If that’s true (and it is), wow. 

That short verse—just seven words in the KJV—challenges me. It also instills hope. How many things do I lack because I haven’t thought to ask God for them? Put another way, while my prayer list is filled with reactive prayers—prompted by a need that’s cropped up or some problem I’m facing—what if I’m neglecting proactive prayers? Prayers to prevent problems from arising or to invite blessings I have yet to experience? 

If you were to compile a list of things you’ve never asked for, what would be on it? I ask that question not to provoke guilt or regret, but to suggest vast new vistas for prayer.

For example, until recently, I’d never prayed for flexible and pain-free joints. I’d never asked for a new friend who loves baseball like I do (and with whom I might watch games from time to time). I’d never before asked to avoid future injury or surgery, to be protected from hepatitis or cancer, to be surprised by a call from one of my children. I’d never before asked for car tires to stay properly inflated, for friends to avoid debt or divorce, for my internal organs to keep functioning well, and more. 

Since meditating on James 4:2, “never before” prayers have almost become a form of holy recreation for me. I’ve found joy in sometimes saying to God, “You know, Lord, wouldn’t it be great if today’s mail brought a blessing of some kind?” Or, “God, I’ve never asked you to pre-emptively deliver me from kidney stones, so I’m asking now.” My prayers have become more creative, visionary and exciting with the injection of “never before” prayers into my conversation with God. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

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