Answers to Your Questions: Is One Prayer Enough?
Q: What should I do if I pray and don’t get an answer right away or soon? Is one prayer enough, or should I keep praying until God either does answer or makes it clear that, for whatever reason, He’s not going to grant my request?
A: Prayer is an act of faith; we pray because we believe that God can and will answer. But sometimes God doesn’t answer as quickly as we would like or expect Him to, and this tests our faith. When we continue to pray in such cases—not with a doubting, accusatory, “Why haven’t You answered?” attitude, but with an “I’m still trusting You to answer in Your good time” attitude—we show God that we haven’t lost faith.
There are certain situations, however, when it’s time to stop praying at least long enough to take stock. Some situations change over time, and we may need to alter or refocus our prayers accordingly. Other times God doesn’t answer our prayers because we are asking for the wrong things or with the wrong motives—“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss” (James 4:3). Or we may be praying for the right things with the right motive, but God’s hands are tied, in a sense, due to other people’s wrong choices, since God gives each of us free will. In such cases it would be better if we prayed instead for God to either correct that problem or help us make the most of a bad situation. Or God may be using the situation to teach us something—patience, for example: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). Yet other times God’s answer is already on its way but we can’t see it yet, and in such cases He wants us to demonstrate our faith by “counting it done” and thanking Him for the answer even before it arrives. God also sometimes answers in a way that may be different than what we requested but is actually better for us, and we need to recognize when that happens.
Whatever the case may be, God can show you not only whether you should continue to pray in that particular situation, but also how to pray most effectively. Once you’re sure that your prayers are on target, you can also be sure that God will answer them when He knows the time and circumstances are right. “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
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