Effective Prayer – Difference Between Need and Desire

Do you find yourself praying for the same specific thing day in and day out because you have not yet received an affirmative answer to that prayer? I do. I’m not talking about prayers for loved ones or leaders, for forgiveness or for inspiration. The prayers we find ourselves repeating are for particular events or outcomes, like the sale of a property we’ve had on the market for a while or rain for our hay field that needs just one more big soaking to produce the hay we need to feed our horses for the next year.

My husband and I have gone from daily prayer to periods of no prayer and back again to daily prayer. We quit praying when we “gave it to God”, figuring that to keep asking would mean we didn’t really give it away. When no change came we added those specific requests back into our daily prayers.

Prayer and Horse Training – Take Smaller Steps

Worthy leaders make great teachers. Horses teach humans how to be worthy leaders. After a wonderful weekend working with women friends who use their horses in ministry I discovered a link between horse training and prayer. As I helped the other riders break down maneuvers into ever smaller steps I realized that this was also a way to understand unanswered prayer.

Whenever we meet resistance with our horse we need to address it where it occurred and not one step later. The same is true in prayer. What exactly did I ask my horse to do that caused the problem? If I can’t identify that I can’t help my horse.

What exactly have I asked God for that I have yet to receive? If we break down a prayer into smaller steps we will discover if our prayer is for a need to be met or a desire to be granted.  Jesus promised that all proper prayer would be answered and the Spirit would even pray where we cannot. If we pray in God’s will our request WILL be granted.

How to Reveal the True Need in a Prayer for Rain: Step-by-Step

Many times our need can be met with a one-sentence answer but we ask God to drop the entire encyclopedia in our lap because we don’t really know the difference between a need and a desire. Use the illustration that follows to break down your own prayers.

We have been praying daily for rain:

  • Dear Lord, bless the land with life-giving rain. – No rain.

The question becomes, why do we pray for rain in the first place?

  • Please send rain so the grass will be pretty and I don’t have to water. – That is a want, not a need.
  • Lord, please send rain so our field will produce an abundant hay crop. – Is that really my need? No.
  • Lord, please work in whatever way You will to produce hay on our property. – Okay, so now I’ve removed rain as the only prayer. In other words, if I can’t get rain I’m willing to accept a miracle. Believe it or not, I am finally moving in the right direction. Stay with me…
  • Lord, please provide hay to feed our horses for the next year no matter where it comes from.  – Do you see how the prayer is beginning to change?
  • Lord, please provide food for our horses for the next year. – I don’t really have to have hay, I’ll take any nutritious food.
  • Lord, please provide food for our horses today.

What I really want is the ability to provide “bread” for my horses today. What could be better than producing a savings account of hay I can draw from until next year? Praying for that is asking for a luxury. My original prayer was for a desire, not for a need.

Seek First the Kingdom of God

The sixth chapter of Matthew walks through the entire process of proper prayer. God will provide what we need but not necessarily what we want. Is your prayer for some specific outcome a petition for a need to be met or for a wish to be granted? Every parent must teach their child the difference between a need and a want. Our Father is faithful to do the same with His children.

My horses are well fed today. Thank you, Lord.

.    .    .

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HE CAME LOOKING FOR ME  –  208 pp book by Lynn Baber that answers the question, “How does the true story of a horse bound for slaughter prove the truth of the promise of our mansion in heaven?”   Read more HERE or click title to visit books on Amazon.








  1. Roger Williams:

    Early this morning I prayed for the rain to stop because we were to have a new heater fitted. It didn’t stop it got worse! That was a want, not a need.

    We have another heater which works fine if we close off a couple of doors. With 10.7 degrees C outside it’s meeting a want and a cause to be thankful.

    But … I pray it stops raining tomorrow!!

    Thanks for the lesson, Lynn.


    • Lynn:

      Roger, I hope you stay warm and dry! I must admit that this lesson was most valuable to me. There’s nothing wrong with praying for a desire, but the pursuit of simplicity and truth is not as easy as it first appears. Just because I am solidly on the path one day doesn’t mean I don’t need to be reminded the next. May your rain stop and ours begin…

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