What prayer is
Pray is a request to divinity or some higher authority for issues beyond your control. You do not pray for what you can do or control. How to pray is for things outside our abilities.
How to pray as seen in the New Testament
I recently when through all the New Testament passages on prayer. Especially those in the epistles. And I was reminded again of the old saying, “Prayer is not getting our desires done in heaven, but getting heaven’s will accomplished on earth.”
I found no example or command to pray for John Doe’s gout (James 5 is not an exception). Nor relief from disasters, natural or otherwise.
Things prayed about in New Testament scripture are spiritual. Especially the salvation of unbelievers and the continuation or expansion of ministry for believers. There are some prayers for relief from spiritual discouragement primarily when persecuted. In summary, pray for things that will bring others to Jesus or help others grow in Christ-likeness.
How to pray for somebody
So instead of praying forJohn Doe’s gout what do we pray for or with him? We pray for his coming to faith in Jesus. When he comes to that point, we then pray for effectiveness and expansion of his service (ministry) to others.
We do not pray for God to bless someone. He is very good at doing that without our reminding Him. It is something God longs to do. We do not pray for God to bless us, again He wants to do that. We do not pray for God to bless other people for the same reason. Benedictions can be a problem. An exception to this was in the Old Testament when the priest serves as an intermediary for conveying God’s blessing on people. As believers today we are indwelt by God and so have no need priest to bless us. We are all believer priests with direct access to God.
Now, look at this discussion of I Thess. 4:14.