(Recommended Reading – Daniel 9 & 10 in The Message / Other references from sources as noted)
Who among us has ever desired something and prayed in faith for it, just to have it seem that our prayers go up to the ceiling and stop? It appears our prayers are not being heard by God at those times. At that point it is so easy to get discouraged and just give up. I know that I have certainly been there. In fact, so much so, that I vent my frustrations to God verbally about it at times.
We need to remember that God does always hear our prayers. However, we need to do a couple of things.
#1 – We need to check our motives behind our requests and make certain that what we are asking for is within the will of God. It can be easy to ask for things out of selfishness if we are not careful. If necessary, get into the Word to confirm the legitimacy of what we are asking for. If you are convinced that you are in God’s will with what you are requesting, then you have step two.
#2 – Never give up – no matter how long you have to keep it up – pray, pray, pray some more. I am sure you have heard stories like me how someone has prayed for literally years for the salvation of a family member or friend before they see the answer. We should not question God and His timing.
In Daniel 9 it tells us that Daniel was praying earnestly and the angel Gabriel said to him in verses 22-23a (MSG): “’Daniel, I have come to make things plain to you. You had no sooner started your prayer when the answer was given. And now I’m here to deliver the answer to you.’” This seems to indicate that our prayers set things in motion for an immediate answer. [Emphasis mine]
But then in Daniel 10 we read about how Daniel went into “mourning” over Jerusalem. He was fasting and praying for at least 3 weeks. Then on the 24th day, an angel appeared to him (a study I read indicated it was likely Gabriel again) and verses 12-14a (MSG) say: “’Relax, Daniel,’ he continued, ‘don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia…’” [Emphasis mine]
This indicates that although the answer was sent out immediately upon Daniel speaking out his prayers, there were evil forces trying to prevent the answer being delivered to him. Then one of the most powerful of God’s angels, Michael, came to the aid of the delivering angel so that the answer could be taken on to Daniel while he waited.
In chapter 9 we read about Daniel praying and getting an almost instant answer. What if this time he had given up on praying when the answer just was not coming – would the answer still have come? Possibly. Or, could the lack of continued prayer have allowed the blocked answer from ever being delivered? Maybe and maybe not, I do not know. But, if Daniel had stopped praying, I can just imagine the battle between the angel and Satan when Satan tells the angel, “Hmm, I guess Daniel is not interested anymore, he is no longer praying for this answer. You may as well go back to where you came from.”
When I researched the question “when should we stop praying?”, I found this – quoted from John Piper: “Isn’t it significant (I think it is) that in the Bible we have the statement ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’ James 4:2, but we don’t have the statement ‘You pray too much or too long’? We don’t have a statement that says, ‘You have things I did not want to give you because you kept on asking me when it was time to quit.’ We don’t have anything like that.” (James 4:2b is from NIV)
Jesus speaking said: “Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: ‘Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. ‘And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.’” (Luke 11:5-10 NLT) [Emphasis mine]
“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. ‘There was a judge in a certain city,’ he said, ‘who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly!…’” (Luke 18:1-8 NLT)
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:3 NLT)
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Colossians 4:2 NLT)
So it seems to me that when praying for something we are assured is in the will of God, we should never give up. God’s answer could be “Wait, it is not yet time for that.” Or, it could be “No, that is not what is best for you, or the person you are praying for.” The best thing we can do is stay in the Word, stay in prayer believing and trusting and thanking Him for the answer. And, yes, we should start thanking Him for the answer, even before it is received – “Do not worry. Learn to pray about everything. Give thanks to God as you ask Him for what you need.” (Philippians4:6 NLV) Prayer will help us stay focused on God and His will for us and others.
But one thing we should NEVER do is decide God is not going to answer this prayer so I need to just take things into my own hands and make it happen. This is almost always a formula for disaster. We can trust God to always do what is best for us at the perfect time – just never give up.
Written by Karran Martin – September 22, 2019