What To Pray For

What's God's cell number again?

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays  Soren Kierkesgaard

What do you pray for in your life?

If you were anything like me as a kid, you prayed for your favorite toys and electronic gadgets to show up on Christmas, acing your exams, winning the soccer match and longing for your favorite pizza to manifest for dinner.

Later in life, you might have prayed for admission into the college of your dreams, professional success, marital harmony, healthy children, and lots of moolah $$

What you pray for.

Often in life, we pray to God for material possessions (a new Iphone, pay raises or your own tropical island), personal favors (like the Giants winning the World Series or the cop letting you go without ticketing your) and for a stroke or luck (winning the lottery or your stock broker actually being right for once 🙂

Nothing wrong with praying for favors.

In fact, God is there for your favors. If you live by God’s laws and obey His command, you’re going to reap the rewards of His favor.

But sometimes, life puts us through trials and tribulations. We don’t always get what we want. The house, the man of our dreams, the job or the financial security we desired may not materialize.

We then blame God. And wonder why he has forsaken us.

You can pray for favor but consider praying for the prayers that can transform you.

The prayers than can transform your life.

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” Psalm 100

Pray for thanksgiving.

You have more in your life than you can imagine. And more to be thankful for than what you desire in your life. Instead of wanting, why not be appreciative for the blessings you do have?

Why pray for the promotion when you can be thankful for the job? Why pray for a bigger house when you can be grateful for the one you’re already living in?

Instead of asking in prayer, be grateful in prayer.

Pray for strength.

We tend to ask God to help us solve situations, fix circumstances and change the calamities in our lives. When you’re down and scuffling with life, you ask God why He’s testing you? You wish God can abracadabra the situation and change it.

What if instead of asking for a change of circumstance, you pray for strength to deal with whatever tribulations come your way? It doesn’t matter how horrific, heart-breaking or soul-crushing, why don’t we ask God to give us the mental and emotional power to tackle the pains and hurts we confront?

Give us the ability to reach out to the get the help we need, to find the scriptures that soothe us, to have the power to bear life’s challenges.

Pray for humility.

Ever asked God for fame and recognition in the eyes of friends and family? Ever asked for attention and recognition?

Why not ask for humility instead. Humble with the gifts that God has given us. Humble for the special qualities we have. Humble for the many blessings we have in our lives.

When we’re walking around with our head held high and our egos on the loose, ask God to put our lives in perspective for us. Help us tame our ego. Help us think about others and not ourselves.

Pray for others.

We tend to focus on ourselves in prayer. ‘Oh, God help me win this game. Help me write this book. Help me find peace. Help me land the job.’

We are us-focused. Why not pray for the problems and challenges our family, friends, colleagues and neighbors face?

Ask God to help them, guide them, lead them and lead them. Let’s turn our focus from us to others. Let’s ask God to give strength to those who need it. Those grieving, those hurting, those who have lost everything.

Pray for hope.

Your situation may be unimaginable and dark. Ask God to fill with you hope. To remind you and take you towards the flicker of light at top of the summit. Similar to praying for strength, finding the inner abilty to always be more positive. To seek a better tomorrow. To be able to deal with what comes our way knowing it will get better.

Pray for self-awareness and understanding.

We often think we’re in the right and everyone else is in the wrong. We think we are the ones who have it figured out. What’s wrong with everyone else? Why does it seem like everyone else has lost their mind? Why is the problem so challenging?

Why don’t your parents, husband, clients or children understand you?

Seek understanding. That you may not know everything about yourself but seek the inner knowledge to know more about yourself. That your thoughts become clearer. Your intuition becomes stronger. Your awareness of your behavior, perspective and actions makes more sense to you.

You can step back and be more mindful of yourself. This may take prayer to achieve. It may take meditation.

Pray for compassion.

Pray that you’re able to empathize for yourself and others. Be able to take it easy on yourself. Pray that you don’t view yourself as a failure and you can accept yourself for the person you are.  And that you can extend that same compassion for others. You can feel, understand and put yourself in the shoes of others.

That you’ll be able to share in their grief and problems.

Pray for patience.

Why do you demand everything happen immediately in your life? When it comes to the plane taking off on time or in God responding your prayers?

Why can’t you wait for five minutes or 5 years. Pray that you’ll have the patience to not know when, how long, how far or how often and that you’ll be ok with that.

Pray for forgiveness.

Forgiving those that have wronged you is hard. Although the wrongs may be petty, the monstrous ego gets in the way and tells us that we are right, we’ve done no wrong and that we deserve the apology.

Pray that you can forgive. Pray that others may not know what they’re doing sometimes. That others may be lost, confused, mistaken, unaware, and hurt your unintentionally.

Pray for wisdom.

Pray that you will be wiser with every passing day. That you’ll understand the world better today. Understand yourself better. Understand God better. Understand the truths of the world better. You will learn the lessons that God has been trying to teach you your entire life.

Friends, if you’re going to pray, don’t put God in a tough spot. Don’t demand your stock portfolio double or your damaged car won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Don’t pray for quick-fixes and Godfather-like-favors.

Pray for what really matters. Pray for the qualities that can transform your life.

Photo credit: Modenadude

To pick up my book, Is God Listening, about surviving life’s difficult times, click here


  1. This is an absolutely marvelous post, Vishnu! You have hit the nail on the head when it comes to how we should pray and what we should pray for. God is not, as Billy Graham once said, “a celestial bellhop,” answering your every whim. He knows what’s best for us and answers our prayers in His impeccable timing.
    Thank you for blessing my day, my friend!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Martha. I’m glad you enjoyed it and the post blessed your day. We all pray but the prayers materialize at God’s discretion, not our own. I like the “celestial bellhop” concept. Nope, God doesn’t respond to our every whim and desire. That’s why I pray a lot for more patience in my life:)

  2. Martha is right. This post is a keeper. In fact I’m going to print it and go right down the list next time I sit down to pray.

    I’ve gotten in the habit as I go through my day to say thank you to God (the Universe, whatever name you use) frequently. It’s sunny–thank you, God. It’s raining–thank you, God. Traffic is light–thank you, God. I can see–thank you, God.

    It’s not that I think God actually turned that light green for my benefit, but I’m appreciative nonetheless. It helps me stay focused on all the blessings that shower over me every moment with every breath.

    I’m grateful to you, too, for this inspiring post. Thank you, Vishnu!

    1. Thank you Galen. I wasn’t sure about publishing a post on prayer. haha but it’s how I feel about it and what prayer has come to represent for me over the years. I started moving away from demanding God do stuff for me to praying for strength, patience, wisdom, peace, and more.

      Prayers of thanksgiving are the best – if we focus on thanksgiving, we won’t be seeing the world’s shortcomings:)

      Again, thank you for the kind words and for commenting Galen.

  3. Great perspectives Vishnu! I think one of the greatest prayers we can pray is for Godly wisdom. I have also learned the best position to have when it comes to praying is on our knees.

    1. Thanks Dan for sharing how you pray. Yes, wisdom is what we all need more in our life. Wisdom comes to us through prayer (and life experiences as well).

      Do wise people pray more or do people who pray more become wiser:) ?

      1. Good question. I think praying sure helps a person become or grow in wisdom. I also think personal growth, mentorship, and learning helps us grow wiser.

        1. Yes, so many good qualities we derive from prayer Dan. As well as from other sources like personal development and mentorship, etc. Thanks again for your comments.

  4. As you know, V, I don’t pray! So I’d love to understand more the reason that you do pray. Do you think it is a want, or a need? When do you pray – where does it come from? Is there a pattern to when you do? Or how you pray?

    Of course, other readers can comment on this too!

    – Razwana

    1. Razwana, thanks for joining in. I think it may have been a need at some point in my life but prayer has become more of a spiritual practice to bring more strength, patience, wisdom and self-understanding into my life. With so many benefits, why not pray:) ? Prayer also brings peace of mind, understanding and peace!

      I think I may follow up on this topic in another post to answer your other questions but very simply, prayer comes from my heart. And no real pattern to prayer -we can pray everywhere, often and always.

  5. A few years ago I changed from praying for my “wants” to prayers of gratitude. And when those moments of things not working out, happen – I pray for the vision to see it differently.

    Your post has great wisdom, and those who listen and change the way they pray will see an incredible difference in their life.

    Such a blessing to share with others, new ways to pray.

    1. Hi Aileen – yes, the first step is changing from want to anything else really:) Gratitude is a great prayer to thank God for the all the blessings in our lives. I started noticing that prayer was more effective in my life once I started praying for anything but things I wanted or desired. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing this post Aileen.

  6. Ok, it sounds dumb but I do pray for relationship advice. Haha. Or finding ‘the one’, ‘is he the one??’. I’m sure I’m not alone! 😛 I try to get specific with my prayers so I know for sure if they’ve been answered. Set deadlines with God. haha.. that’s a good one. I have had prayers answered before though and it’s awesome when it happens. Seems so magical, with the synchronicity!

    1. haha. Thanks for the good laugh Janet! you’re breaking it down for what we should really pray for – relationship advice, vacation planning, laptop selection. lol Deadlines with God – hilarious! Going to see if I can explore that in another post – when do our prayers get answered. Prayer is definitely magical and filled with synchronicity. thanks for dropping by.

  7. Hi Vishnu, I do pray to God. Right now I’m focusing on wisdom, kindness and how best to serve God through serving others and fully utilizing my talents. And God does answer my prayers all the time. It’s just they’re not always the answers I like. 😀 But they are answers nonetheless and help me have a real, experiential relationship with God.

    My friend had a funny/keen observation about praying for patience. After she would pray for it, situations would arise that sorely tested hers. Of course, this was an answer to her prayer because the best way to increase your patience is to practice having it. But, she joked, she was “kinda hoping for the kind of patience that you could put in your pocket. You know, the kind you could pull out when you needed it.” I like to think of that story when I don’t think I’ve gotten the “right” answer. Every situation has a positive lesson in it.

    I also believe in the power of prayers of thankfulness — “The seeds of discontent can not grow in a grateful heart.” Yeah, I just quoted Joel Osteen. And I am not ashamed. 🙂

    1. Good point Jammie – we never do get the answers we want and sometimes the answers may take time to come and often, the prayers may take months or years to materialize.

      And great story about your friend praying for patience. You’d think it’s like every other relationship in our life but with God, I don’t think it is. I don’t think you get what you want, you get what you need. Lol This is not fast food or Costco. You can’t really ask for patience and if you do, you’ll be circling around the aisles of Costco for hours on end. You may never have found those free samples but you’ve gotten to know the store better and built up your ability to wait.

      Love Joel Osteen, despite the critics. He’s bringing millions of people back to faith. He figured we’re all watching TV anyway, why not show up where we are? lol

  8. Hi Vishnu,

    This was an absolutely beautiful post. I think this is probably the best summary of prayer and how to pray properly and what for that I’ve ever read anywhere.

    Much like other people when I was younger I used to pray for all external things, like having such and such object, passing my exams, getting a good job etc.

    However, there came a stage when I began to doubt why I was praying for such things. Why was I only remembering God when I wanted something? It just didn’t feel right. When I began to read spiritual texts like the Bhagavad Gita and began to understand the ego and how I had become trapped by it, did my relationship with God start to change and I become wiser about what I was praying for. I still have a very long way to go and appreciate all the points you mentioned that we should pray for. It is praying for such things that will help heal our suffering and those of others.

    Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Hiten – much appreciated as always. Yeah, we are told to pray to God like Santa Claus from a young age. Pray for x and get x. Pray for y and get y. But what if X isn’t good for us and Y will ruin us?

      When I started praying for God to deliver for me, I was constantly disappointed. I realized during the more challenging events in my life that I was praying all wrong. And had the relationship with God all wrong. Here’s (in the post above) is how I changed my perspective and it helped. A lot. I too have a long ways to go but now have a better perspective on God & prayer.

  9. What’s up V!

    Okay, this post is awesome because it deals with what a relationship in God is truly about (in my opinion). It isn’t about “what can I get out of this relationship”. It’s much more than that.

    Me, I often pray for gratitude. I want to be able to appreciate the life I have been given. I feel like there are so many things I am doing that are very unique (as does everyone) but if I cannot appreciate these for the beauty that they are, it is all a waste. Correct?

    There are quite a few things on this list of prayers that I LOVE, but in particular I’m going to single out humility and wisdom. I think humility is often understated. It’s a strange thing because once cannot be “intensely humble” by swearing up and down “I will be incredibly humble” instead they must approach humility with humility (am I talking crazy, now?).

    As for wisdom… Well, shoot! Who wouldn’t want to be wise? I’m going to start praying about this very moment!

    1. Izzy, thank your for adding your wisdom here. It is truly an honor to have a man/ninja of God visiting. Gratitude or thanksgiving, as I mention, is a great thing to pray for. We are then thanking God for all the good things in our lives and the many blessings we already have. We have so many good things going on in our lives which we can thank God for – let’s spend more time doing that. Completely agree with you there!

      Humility and wisdom – we all need more of that in our lives. I’m going to join you right now as well in that prayer.

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