This week I was in a Bible study where the question was asked; is it appropriate to continue praying for something or should we just pray once, know that God hears our prayers, and know that he will answer? After participating in the discussion and listening to others, I felt that the best way for me to answer this question is by sharing my though with you through Homewords Ministry.
First of all without elaboration, my working definition of prayer is as follows:
Prayer is the act of commutative relationship with God.
• Showing our love for Him
• Showing our affirmation of faith to Him
• Showing our dependence on Him
• Presenting our petitions for self and othersDifferent
Scriptures seem to take a number of different directions on answering this question, which makes an answer to the appropriate frequency of prayer request seem confusing. For instance, Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:10 and 1:12 continued to “pray to the Lord” for a son and was granted Samuel, who she dedicated and gave to the priesthood”. However, Paul who often advocated persistent and continual prayers (1 Thessalonians 1:3, Romans 1:9:10, Ephesians 6:18, 2 Timothy 1:3), prayed consistently for God to remove “a thorn in my flesh”, to which God answered “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Corinthians 12:7-8).
My observation is that quite often the dilemma with our prayers is that we pray for things that are outside of the realm of what God will grant. When praying, I believe that no prayer will be answered that doesn’t glorify God, which is the purpose for God creating man. Scripture tells us, we were created to “rule” over the earth. Genesis 1:26 says “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our own likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and he birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Thus in this case, God’s glorification comes when we obey and rule over the earth in a manner which satisfies God.
We further learn from Scripture that, there are things on earth which are physical, and there are thing which are spiritual. In the spiritual realm, God represents the good side and the serpent (Genesis 3:1-7) represents evil. Man, living in the scope of good and evil, had to encounter not only God and the good side of the spiritual realm, but also the evil sides. God attempted to spare man from the complications of decisions regarding the spiritual worlds by simply telling him, not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Before man’s disobedience and fall, his total knowledge of the two realms, and the answers to dealing with it, relied totally on his relationship with God and following the one simple restriction, “do not eat”.
Man’s personal relationship with God was severed with one single act, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, banishing him from The Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23). That relationship can be restored by one single act, accepting Jesus as our “personal savior”, which gives us the privilege of taking part in Jesus’ personal connection to the Father. In other words, through Jesus our relationship with God is restored. For Jesus in John 6:57 says “Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”
Now, what does this have to do with the answer on the frequency of a specific petition? Simply put, God loves His relationship with man. As defined, Prayer is the commutative relationship with God. God loves that communicative relationship. But the communicative relationship doesn’t mean God answers all prayers with a “yes”? Sometimes, God’s answer to a specific petition may be “no”, but God still loves you, and loves when we come to Him for the commutative relationship. Sometimes, the” yes” is not immediate because we are not ready for God’s answer. Sometimes, in the scope of what we are asking for, God’s glory comes from the use of our request in a much larger way than we can ever imagine. Sometimes, everything is not in place for God to move with your “yes “answer. Sometimes, before the answer is given, preparation must be made. Remember that God is a perfect God. A perfect God has to give us a perfect answer. However, no matter what the answer is, God loves the commutative relationship, because this is what God made man for, to commune with Him.
My suggestion is to follow the Scripture and pray often. Pray often, because God loves to hear from you. God loves the relationship with you and there is nothing better on earth than a relationship with God. When you make prayer petitions, God will grant request to your petition in a manner to His glory. When God answers “no”, it could mean that what you are partitioning for is not good for you, or what you are asking for is for your own satisfaction, and not for God’s glory. If God is slow to answer, it could mean that God is planning to get a lot more out of your request than you could ever imagine. But, regardless of the answer, keep the commutative relationship hot. God’s perfect answers are always best.