Have you ever been tempted to quit praying? Think carefully before you answer. Have you ever prayed for something so long that you thought that God didn’t want to answer at all? Have you ever prayed for something so long that you thought God didn’t hear you? Have you ever prayed so long that you assumed that God was saying no? Are you still praying for those things? Maybe you should quit.
For the sake of argument let’s say that maybe God hasn’t or didn’t answer because He’s waiting on you to do something. What if what you are asking God to do you could have done yourself? What if you already have all the resources at hand to do what it is that you are asking God to do? If you already have what you need and could have done it yourself, quit praying, and start doing yourself, thanking God for giving you the ability and resources. Thank Him for knowing in advance that you would need those things.
Psalm 139:14 (NLT)14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
2 Peter 1:3 ASV seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue;
Mark Batterson in his book Draw the Circle gives us some things that we already know that we don’t need to pray about because God has already told us what to do;
Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Luke 6:38 (NLT)38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
Romans 12:1 (NLT)1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
James 2:14-16 (NLT)14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
Matthew 5:39-42 (NLT)39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
There are other times where our constant praying amounts to “spiritual procrastination”. We are called to pray about everything, but there comes a time when praying can be a form of disobedience, laziness, or negligence:
Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. Pray about everything. Then pray some more. But at some point, we have to quit praying and start doing. We can’t just pray like it depends on God; we also must work like it depends on us. God isn't honored by prayers that are within our of human abilities; God is honored when we ask Him to do what is humanly impossible. That way, God gets all the glory!
When everything is said and done, God won’t say, “Well said, good and faithful servant.” He won’t say, “Well thought,” “well planned,” or even “well prayed.” There is only one commendation He will give: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Matthew 25:19-21 (NLT) “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’
It’s time to quit praying and start doing.
Some excerpts from Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson, copyright Zondervan.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.