07 Jan, 2013 When not to press a plea on prayer (Part II)

Ok, yes, If a think is not yet a done deal (unlike the picture) it’s good to never give up praying – however, the reflection here is on the question…

Are there maybe times when it’s fine not to press a plea?

What if God’s permissive will is allowing for ‘failure’ in an area

that you want ‘success’ in?

We could look at Elijah, and quickly raise Him as an example of one man standing in faith against the prevailing culture of a nation, and seeing God’s victory come.

But does this mean we can always get the answer we want? Does that mean God always comes through when we are believing for something with tenacious and persevering faith (like in the previous blog)?

…what about when God’s plan is contrary to the thing we are believing for?

…or when He has determined that the positive answer will be contingent (dependent) upon the combined faith of a group of people, rather than the individual faith of a few among them?

Would God do such a thing?

What about Caleb and Joshua as an example? There they were with faith to enter the promised land – but the other 10 spies were doubting.

The point: If they had chosen to advance in faith at that time – no matter how great their faith – , they would not have succeeded, because God had determined that entering the promised land needed the corporate favourable faith of the people. Failing this, the people were to wander the desert for 40 years!

Maybe God’s answer to our prayers is sometimes contingent on more than just our own faith

  1. and His purpose a message to the people (corporately).

What do you think?

When a prayer is decisively not answered, I see three key options.

a. …that God failed us / failed to answer (this being an option we don’t take)

b. …that the problem is with our faith (or goals, or motives…)

c. …or that the reason for a negative answer to our prayer request is that God is working out something greater.

Ignoring the first, we examine our hearts regarding the second, and – if we can see and discern no real issue – we are left with the third.

The emotional challenge comes when our hearts are very much in the ‘success’ of the thing we are praying for. We may feel great disappointment!

Note -this does happen. Many have faced such disappointment. Many who have laboured

hard in Christian work step back due to reasons exacerbated by the draining affects of

such disappointment.

Our point of growth is to view such failure with the same faith, trusting God’s sovereignty and purpose even though we may not see or understand it. The goal is for our faith to truly be blind – in the sense of not understanding (while not in terms of the logic of God’s existence etc. or an experiential knowledge from repeated experience that God does answer prayer, on which basis we choose to evaluate the times when He doesn’t answer as we expect from a perspective of faith). We choose to trust even though we can make no sense of our circumstances.

Anyway – if anyone is reading this, well done, and I hope the small reflection is helpful.

For us, we’re looking at a national Christian project with a few challenges to yet overcome, and am considering the options in aspects of it where things haven’t yet worked out as expected. Could the success of the project be contingent upon God’s people nationally deciding they do want every home to hear a little about the gospel? Or is it contingent only upon myself and the team? Could it be purposed as a message to the Church – a situation where we corporately get what we want – including no national gospel project (connecting with every home) if that is what our actions confirm? Could it be a situation like the king asked by Elisha to strike arrows on the ground, who then struck the ground feebly, and just three times – to the disappointment and condemnation of Elisha, who expected him in their circumstances to apply himself with passion?

I don’t think I need an answer to any of these questions – except to note the possibility, because I believe God really is like that. He works in ways we cannot always comprehend easily.

I have seen God work in ways I really didn’t expect – or see coming… I have experienced great disappointment – found renewed faith and hope beyond it – and hopefully learnt a few lessons in the process. Life isn’t a straight line – and God’s ways are not always a straight line (as it might be measured by our thinking) – but God is faithful! Our challenging being to have the faith to believe that when risking greatly, and thus potentially facing great disappointment – or great ‘success’!

…is maybe the kind of surrendered faith God is looking for in our prayer?


DAVE MANN. Dave is an Author and gifted communicator with a passion for the Gospel. This passion started when he came to faith at age 11. After Secondary School he went straight to Bible College, followed by 7 years in outreach ministry in New Zealand, then nearly 9 as a pastor in Singapore, before returning to New Zealand at the end of 2011. Dave is a visionary and fearless about pioneering initiatives aimed at helping the Church in New Zealand in the area of its mission. Author of various books and Tracts including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last” and available free on this site: “The what and how of Youth and Young Adult ministry”.
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