How Starbucks Helped My Prayer Life

January 31, 2013

“…ye have not, because ye ask not.” – James 4:2

How does this verse apply to everyday life?

You are either a Starbucks person, or you are not. There is no in-between.

Ordering at Starbucks

The thought of paying five dollars for a cup of coffee either makes you shudder in horror, or smile with delight.

I am not a Starbucks person.

Nevertheless, I often find myself standing in a Starbucks while my friends order drinks.

Have you ever listened to people order at Starbucks? It’s fascinating.

And here’s something I’ve noticed: they never walk up to the counter and say, “I’m thirsty.”

In fact, they have their own language. And it usually sounds like this: “Hi, I’d like a tall, half-skinny, half-1 percent, extra hot, split quad shot (two shots decaf, two shots regular), latte, double-blended, with whip.”


I’m exhausted and need a nap after just listening to that.

But the barista doesn’t even bat an eye. They serve it right up.

Sometimes we can learn spiritual lessons from the most simple things around us. And I wonder if my prayer life couldn’t take a page out of the Starbucks-ordering playbook. Because I’m beginning to realize that when I pray, I often just tell God, “I’m thirsty.” Without realizing it, I’m not actually asking for anything, I’m just stating needs.

When we take up prayer requests in a group or at church, we often do the same thing:

  • “Suzy is sick.”
  • “John lost his job.”
  • “Ann is having surgery tomorrow.”

Those “requests” aren’t actually asking for anything, they’re just stating needs. Would it be more powerful and profitable if we rephrased them as actual requests?

  • “Let’s ask God to take away Suzy’s fever.”
  • “Let’s pray God will provide a new job for John this week.”
  • “Let’s ask God to anoint the doctors performing Ann’s surgery, and pray that God will give her peace through it.”

See the difference? I think God may not answer my prayers sometimes because I’m not actually praying for anything.

You have not because you ask not.

Would you join me in purposing to be more specific in our prayers? Who knows what God will do in response!

Are you like me? Are you guilty of bland, generic statements in your prayers instead of specific requests? You can leave a comment by clicking here.