Over the last two weeks, we have talked a lot about the power of persistent prayer. Persistent prayer is prayer that doesn’t give up. It is prayer that holds onto God until the answer comes. Persistent prayer says, “I will keep on praying until something happens, or God tells me to stop praying.”
Today we are going to look at the second part of that statement. Are there times when God tells you to stop praying for something or someone?
It’s interesting that in all the verses on prayer, there isn’t one about praying too much or for too long.
James 4:2 says, “you have not because you ask not.” However, there isn’t a companion verse that says you prayed too much because you have prayed too much.
As we saw last week, Jesus taught us to keep on asking, to keep on seeking and to keep on knocking. Jesus says in Luke 18 that we should always pray and not lose heart. So the basic principle is to continue in prayer until the answer comes.
However, there are times when God says were should stop praying for something. Here are three reasons it’s time to stop praying.
1. Stop Praying When God Says “No”
God has promised to answer our prayers, but He never promised every answer would always be yes. Sometimes we continue to pray for something when God has clearly said no.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul prays about a thorn in the flesh. We don’t know what that thorn was, but we do know Paul felt it was a hindrance and asked God to remove it. On three separate occasions, Paul asked God to remove this thorn in the flesh. These weren’t just three prayers, but three times of prayer. One translation says he “begged God” for it to be removed.
However, God said no.
It’s hard when God says no, but when God says no, is always so He can bring something better into our life. We can’t see the future; we can’t see very far down the path of life we are on. We don’t see the bigger picture God is painting in our life. We only see the here and now. However, We do know that our Heavenly Father does good things for His children. We know the He is working all things for our good.
The good news is that when God says no, He releases His grace into the situation. God told Paul, “My grace is enough.” Sometimes God takes you out of the storm, and sometimes He gives you strength to go through the storm.
Sometimes He removes the thorn, and sometimes His grace is enough.
God may also say no because we are asking with wrong motives.
The book of James says that we don’t get the answer we want because we are asking with wrong motives.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. – James 4:3
Sometimes God’s greatest blessing is when he says no to our misguided request.
How many problems and tragedies are avoided because God said no to our request.
There is no need to keep praying if you are praying with the wrong motives or desires.
2. Stop Praying and Start Obeying
You need to stop praying when God has Given You instructions that you aren’t obeying.
Some people may not like this point, but it needs to be said anyway. There is no need to pray about something when God has already told you what to do in his Word. I don’t need to pray about something that doesn’t line up with scripture.
God is not going to bless our disobedience.
Sometimes I will have a person ask me to pray for their relationship. Often a woman will ask me to pray for her husband. She is concerned about his faithfulness and that their relationship seems to be faltering. After further discussion, I find that her “husband” isn’t really her husband, he is just her boyfriend she is living with.
Don’t ask God to bless your relationship when it is clearly outside of God’s will. Repent, make the relationship right, then ask for God’s blessing.
Stop praying and make it right.
I have had others ask for God to provide a financial windfall to help them get out of debt, but they aren’t willing to change their spending habits. God is not going to answer your prayer and facilitate your disobedience.
Let me give you one other example. Maybe you have a burden for someone to come to Christ. You are praying for them, but when opportunities come along for you to share your faith you refuse to do so. Stop praying for their salvation and start sharing Christ with them.
3. Stop Paying When the Burden Is Lifted
Sometimes as we pray God lifts the burden for our request. I know there have been many times when I have been praying for something and then felt the peace of God flow over me as I prayed. I believe the peace of God is an indicator of God’s answer. When this happens, it’s time to move from asking God, to thanking Him. It’s time to stop praying in faith and stand in faith that the answer is on its way.
I believe as we keep our spiritual ears open on while we pray, He will lead us and let us know when we need to stop praying.
Persistent prayer keeps knocking on the door of heaven until God either answers or tells you to stop praying.
I have a free tool to help you be more persistent in your prayer.
What is your experience? Have there been times when felt God say to stop praying? Let me know in the comments below.