I've prayed in earnest over the years in various situations with various people for what I (or they) perceived that they needed. However, in many of those situations, I learned that my perceptions are not always right as I saw what happened when God answered my prayers. I learned that God's omniscience surpasses our human capacity of perception.
Let me give you some examples of what I'm talking about. One situation was where I prayed and asked God to bless someone monetarily for the years they went without for the cause of the gospel. I really sorrowed over this person's financial state of extreme debt and I thought money was the answer. However, upon God answering my prayer and this person coming into large sums of money (more than once!), they didn't use it to pay off their debt, they spent it and then went on vacations, etc. I was so mad! I was thinking how could they just ignore God's blessings like that (and more than once!) and not free themselves from their debt? Then it hit me - God knew that money wasn't the answer to their problem. Their problem wasn't a lack of money. Their problem was a spirit of debt, greed, etc. God showed me that I should have prayed for them to be free from the spirit of debt and greed instead.
Be careful when you pray for others. Be careful what you perceive to be the answer for them. Really stop and pray and wait on God to give you the wisdom on what to pray. I've had people ask me to pray for something specific but I felt the Holy Spirit letting me know that wasn't what they needed or what they needed to be praying. I try not to agree to their demands of specific prayer but rather tell them I will pray what God leads me to pray. Here are some examples to help guide you in this process:
- Praying for money for someone - be sure money is the solution! Do they have a spirit of greed or debt? If so, pray for their deliverance of these spirits. Do they have a problem handling their finances? Pray God gives them the ability and wisdom to handle their finances. Are their money problems because they have a bag of holes because they are seeking after money more than God? Pray they return to their first love and put God first.
- Praying for a bodily or physical need - will healing truly heal them? If they are wanting healing of structural or muscular issues, do they have a problem with laziness or not moving much that will still be there after healing? If so, pray for the spirit of laziness to be removed and for God to give them the ability and desire to get up and move around more AND for them to be healed. That way, when they are healed, they will also not continue in the same mindset as before that got them there. A lot of our bodily and physical issues are from our own making. We can pray for healing and God WILL heal us (He is touched by the feelings of our infirmities) but if we want long-lasting deliverance, we must pray for what caused it in the first place. This is but one example.
- Praying for someone to get a specific job/position - Be very careful with this one! Is this the job or position that is right for this individual? Is this truly what God's will for them is? Seek God in how to pray for this situation. I've known situations that if the person had gotten the job that they sought after, it would have ruined them. I've also known those who did so and got the job or position, and it did, indeed, ruin them - sometimes in God and sometimes in other ways as well. So many men are led away by this and it is combined with the spirit of the pride of life and even greed in some cases. I liked what my husband prayed this year when he got laid off due to company cutbacks. He prayed for God to close every door of the other companies he was applying for, if it wasn't what God wanted for him. Not only did God close the doors but He busted open the closed door at my husband's job and (long story) after a lawyer got involved with a workaround with the union, they saved my husband's job and he is still there today. Thank God for a man that knows how to pray correctly!
- Praying for someone to get away from someone else - this is quite common believe it or not. I hear it a lot: "Pray for me that I can get a different desk at work to get away from this person that is making me angry and/or causing me problems." Is it truly the other person that is the problem? If it was, then you moving away should solve it. However, that is not the case a lot of the times, you just find another person that bothers you just as much, if not more. Rather, let us pray that this person be delivered from their irritableness, lack of long-suffering, anger and/or becomes easily intreated, but in most cases the deliverance prayer needs to be that of - from pride. There are some cases where it is best to get away from someone when the above things are not a problem with the person involved.
- Praying for someone's child and their behavior issues - Most, if not all, behavior issues from children are because of the parent. Behavior issues in children sometimes stem from a lack of attention from the parents, especially and most importantly, from the mother. Many adults are walking around with mother-hunger because their mothers were not there for them - physically, emotionally or psychologically. It is a need that MUST be met in all of us and if not, we will be prone to addictions in adult life, seeking after what only our mothers could have given us. So - check yourself as a mother. When I get asked this from women, I usually pray for the mother unless I'm impressioned by the Holy Ghost to pray for the child. Another cause of behavior issues in children is not enough sleep. Other causes of behavior issues in children could be abuse, demonic spirits or medical issues.
I could go on and on but I think you can begin to see the pattern and understanding with these examples. The smarter we pray, the more we can help others and ourselves! Don't let your perceptions get in the way of someone that you love and their deliverance. Seek God and allow His omniscience to guide you into how to pray for others.