Prayer is one of the main bases of Christian living, and in our churches, we speak of the importance of persevering in prayer. Yet sometimes God himself wants us to put an end to some of our prayers.
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV). This one of the smallest verses of the Bible, but one of the most important recommendations. That does not mean to stay in our room, on your knees and pray without stopping. The Apostle Paul speaks here of staying in constant communion with our heavenly Father. One of the forms of prayer is actually to discuss with God, to involve Him in all our decisions and to follow His direction, at every moment of our day.
Jesus also speaks of persevering in prayer by giving the example of a widow who constantly came to bother the judge to give her justice (Luke 18:1-8). When we claim the promises of God, we must do it relentlessly, with faith and hope. When we are sick, it is good to persevere in prayer, in our communion with God, until we have the fulfillment of the promise of healing in our life. And the same goes for deliverance and provision.
But there are also times when we have to end our prayers.
These are the prayers that are made without faith. When we ask God for something, and that thing is in God’s will, we know that He gives it to us (1 John 5:15). So we can stop asking and start declaring instead. If we ask for healing, again and again, it is as if we did not have faith the first time we asked it, and that God heard us. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59.1 NKJV). Therefore, we can remind Him of His promises of healing, thank Him in advance, declare our healing in the Spirit, and fight the enemy by putting God back in His place. We will overcome by the blood of Jesus. If you ask God for something, and you do not believe that He has already given it to you, you lack faith and you will not have the answer to your prayer (James 1:6). So “stop asking, and start declaring it”!
Sometimes you also have to stop praying and start acting. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect” (James 2:17-22 NKJV). It is good to pray for a new job, but you also have to apply for positions and post your resume. It is good to pray for the salvation of our loved ones, but we must take the time to testify to them too. Praying to find a husband or a wife is good, but there are also steps we have to do to meet them. So “stop asking, and start acting”!
Finally, it is also possible that God asks us to stop asking for a favour that would not be in His will for us. This is what He said to Moses when he asked to enter the Promised Land. “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter” (Deuteronomy 3:26 NKJV). God spoke to the prophet Samuel while praying for King Saul. “Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons”” (1 Samuel 16:1 NKJV).
Perhaps you are praying for a person that makes your heart beat faster, and you ask God that they may be attracted to you as well, and the prayer seems to have no effect. Your prayer may be ineffective because God does not want that person in your life! “Stop praying for that, I said no!” In the Old Testament, we have the example of an insistent prayer that ended badly. King Hezekiah had received the message from God that he would die (2 Kings 20:1). He did not have an heir. Instead of submitting to the will of God, knowing that our Father knows what He is doing, he insisted on having a few more years, the time to have an heir. Since he insisted, God accepted. The king had an heir, but this son, King Manasseh, was one of the worst kings that the people of Israel ever had (2 Kings 21), causing the people to commit abominable acts in the eyes of God. Sometimes we have to stop asking God for favours and believe that what He promises us is enough and will fill us fully.