When to Stop Praying

12 10 2012

Traditional wisdom has taught us to keep praying until the answer comes, yet Paul prayed passionately for a legitimate request, for a “thorn” removal in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and stopped after 3 separate seasons of prayer. Jesus prayed 3 times in Matthew 26:44 for the “cup” removal and stopped praying with the resignation “nevertheless, not my will but thine be done”. This is not teaching that 3 is the limit of our prayer requests, but that sometimes there are times when we should stop praying for a request.

I have often seen Christians with a prayer list of over one hundred requests. This not only denies freshness to our prayer life with a resignation to repetition, it also may not be Scriptural for many of the requests. There is a time when we should stop praying for a request. So how can we decide when to persevere in prayer and when to pull back in prayer?

Let me propose an answer to this dilemma. I will call it the Psalm 37:4-5 principle (pretty creative label, isn’t it?).

4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

The verse (like many of the Bible’s treasures) has conditions with the promise. Let me break it down…
Conditions
1. Delight in the Lord’s presence
2. Commit to the Lord’s direction
3. Trust in the Lord’s sovereignty
Promise
1. He will give you your desires
a. If the request is Biblical, keep on praying
For example…daily bread, wisdom, family
b. if a desire evaporates, stop praying
c. If a desire continues, keep praying

God’s promises are not given away without regard to His character. He will give us the desire of our heart, but if we meet His conditions we find that our desire is His desire. Paul lost his desire to pray for his “thorn” to be removed because God changed the desire and replaced it with something better.

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