Knowing whether or not what we are praying for is part of God’s will for us, can be challenging for Believers. We can sometimes be beset by doubt:
“Am I praying/asking for the right outcome?” “Should I stop praying?” “Should I keep praying?”
The Bible gives us some useful examples that might help us answer the questions.
First, let us look at Jesus. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked for the “Cup” (his imminent death on the Cross) to pass if it was possible (Matthew 26:39). He repeated that prayer we are told, two more times (v. 42 and v.44). Eventually, it became clear to Him that it was not possible and He went ahead to die for our sins (it really was the ONLY way).
For a second example, consider David. David prayed (and fasted) asking God to spare his gravely ill infant son. God declined. David’s son died. And David stopped fasting (2 Samuel 12:15-23).
In both examples, until God’s will became clear, both Jesus and David prayed. We should do the same. We should pray, study God’s Word, fast, repeatedly/continually until God’s will becomes clear to us.
Sadly, most of us (myself included) are too impatient: we want an answer now: right now. And we are unwilling to be patient until we “hear God’s voice”, i.e., until we perceive God’s will.
Consider this: God already knows the problem we are facing. And He already knows the answer. We don’t give God new information when we pray. Therefore, prayer (and fasting and studying God’s Word) is really designed to help us to get in tune with Him.
It is not that God has difficulty hearing us, it’s that we have difficulty hearing Him. Prayer is really a means by which God prepares our hearts and minds to “hear” Him, i.e., to perceive His will. If we allow Him to help us, if we give ourselves the time to learn, God will teach us what His perfect will is for us.
Keep praying until God’s answer becomes clear.
Sometimes, like David, we will need to keep praying until the issue we are praying about is conclusively resolved. David prayed for his sick baby until the child died: only then did he know God’s answer was “no”.
Finally, notice that once God’s will was clear, Jesus obeyed. While God’s will is genuinely unclear, we should keep praying. But, once God reveals to us what we should do, we should get off our knees and obey. The sincere prayer of the Believer always results in the obedience of the Believer.
This article was written as a response to a question asked by a visitor who commented on “Perspective on Prayer“.