After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
“I’m tired of praying about it.” My frustration spilled out in those six words. Yes, the statement wobbled on the border between whining and honesty. But I sat among friends in the women’s small-group Bible study; no one would judge me there. In fact, several of them nodded. One said, “I know what you mean. I get tired of bringing up the same issues again and again when I pray. I feel like God’s probably sick of hearing about them too.”
How about you? Do you sigh when you realize how long some requests have been on your prayer list? A friend’s lengthy battle with cancer, a family member’s struggle with substance abuse, a stream of financial setbacks—
Do you wonder if God grows weary hearing your pleas?
God Never Grows Weary
Jesus told a parable about a persistent widow who kept asking a judge to hear her case (Luke 18:1-8). “For some time he refused,” Jesus said (v. 4). Finally, the judge responded but only because he wanted to get rid of the woman: “Otherwise, by continually coming she [will be an intolerable annoyance and she] will wear me out” (v. 5, AMP).
Is that how God feels about us?
Jesus said, absolutely not. Our heavenly Father is nothing like the judge in the parable (Luke 18:6-8). God never grows weary of listening to his children. In fact, Jesus told us to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking (Matthew 7:7, AMP).
God isn’t deaf either. He hears us the first time we ask. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (NIV). Verse 15 is equally emphatic: “And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
God Knows What He’s Doing
So why don’t we receive an answer immediately? Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is always at work, weaving all things together for his glory and our good. But sometimes it takes a while. As Warren Wiersbe says, “God’s delays are not the delays of inactivity, but of preparation.”
How many times do you think Joseph prayed for deliverance during his slavery and imprisonment in Egypt? Yet God waited 13 years before he sent that troubling dream to Pharaoh. How often did Abraham and Sarah ask God – beg him – for the promised heir? Twenty-five years passed before Isaac was born. And—dare I even say it?—God promised Adam and Eve that their offspring would destroy the serpent thousands of years before Jesus came to earth (Genesis 3:15). Furthermore, even though Jesus delivered the deathblow when he rose from the dead, the final battle is yet to come (Revelation 20:2, 10).
Some days I ask myself, “Am I on the 13-year plan, the 25-year plan or—heaven forbid—maybe the 1,000-year plan?” No way I can know. No way you can know either. God has woven millions of threads of human experiences into his eternal plan. So be encouraged. Our thread has been woven into that plan as surely as the life-threads of biblical characters were.
Three Truths to Keep You Praying
In the meantime, we, like the persistent widow, keep praying—even when we don’t feel like it—because our loving God knows our hearts and he welcomes our prayers, especially the persistent ones.
And as we persevere in prayer, we cling to these truths:
First, prayer is more about maintaining fellowship with God than receiving favors from him.
God longs for us to crawl into his lap and rest. In that place of safety, he wraps his arms around us and says, “I love you” (Jeremiah 31:3). The Spirit whispers, “I will guide you” (John 16:13). Jesus assures us, “I know how you feel” (Hebrews 4:15-16). We need those moments of restoration and reassurance when it seems God isn’t listening to us.
Second, prayer is more about dependence than control.
Too often we treat God like a celestial vending machine. We presume that our prayers work the levers of the machine. The harder we tug, the more quickly the spring mechanism will release God’s answer. Not so. God designed prayer as a means of helping us to rely on him (1 Peter 5:7). “Don’t worry about anything—including delayed answers to prayer,” the apostle Paul wrote. Instead, “pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6, paraphrased). The more we communicate with God, the easier it is to rely on his judgment than on our preferences. Praying repeatedly about a matter reminds us that we must depend on him.
Third, prayer is more about confident expectation than closure.
When we take our requests to God and leave them in his capable hands, we express our confidence in the reliability of his promises and the wisdom of his purposes. “God’s got it,” as a friend of mine likes to say. This confidence is the valve that releases the “[peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace] which stands guard over your hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:7, AMP). Through prayer, we can learn to rely on his character rather than on his provision.
Ask Others to Pray with You
One reason I told the women in my Bible study that I was tired of praying about a particular situation was to elicit their help. Remember when Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ arms in Exodus 17:8-23? Moses needed their help. And we need the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Knowing that others are praying on my behalf, for needs and concerns that weigh heavy on my heart, comforts me. It also motivates me to keep praying.
Are you tired of praying about something? Enlist the prayer support of a few trusted friends or family members. Then crawl into your heavenly Father’s lap, and tell him all about it. He’ll give you the strength to keep on praying until the time for him to act has arrived.
He is a good God. We can trust him. The question is, will we?