Sunday School Lessons

Why Do We Stop Praying?

Have you ever stopped praying to God for a request, but then He chose to honor that request much later?  Or, did you just stop praying about something and never paid attention to see if God did respond in a way that was clear to you?  I hope not, but lets consider that sort of situation, today.

Let’s pause here for a moment and remember why Jesus told His disciples the parable (see Luke 18:1-8) that is being studied in this short series of articles.  (Hint: the answer is given to us in Luke 18:1.)

Upon completing the parable, Jesus continues to teach from it:

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
Luke 18:6‭-‬7 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/luk.18.6-7.NIV

This parable is not an illustration about having to pester or annoy God until He finally relents and gives us what we ask for.  On the other hand, it also doesn’t mean that we can pray and pray for something and will always get it.

Instead, this is a “lesser to greater” comparison: If even a secular, obstinate judge can eventually do the right thing, how much more will a God who loves us answer our prayers?

Now, maybe you’ve been following Jesus long enough to know that God’s answers to prayers are delivered according to His plan, not ours.  He sometimes says “yes” (and answers our prayers in the way that we have asked them), but He also sometimes says no (knowing that there’s a reason not to do so).  Still other times, He says “wait”.

Perhaps that last answer is one of the most important reasons why we should continue to be faithful in our prayers, especially those that haven’t yet been clearly answered with a “yes” or a “no”.

Let’s say that you asked God for something, but it wasn’t the right time.  If He was preparing to give you what you were asking for – only in the future – but you gave up on continuing to pray for it (and even forgot that you had prayed about it in the first place), what is likely to happen when the right time comes?

  • For one thing, you would have lost out on the chance to see a connection between your prayers and God’s work.
  • You might miss out on the chance to glorify God (one of the reasons we’re here on this earth, by the way).
  • And, without the connection to prayer, it’s possible that what you prayed for might not even be in God’s plan anymore (although the immutability of God’s intentions are a more complex topic for another day).

Remember that answered prayers aren’t only about us getting something (even selfless things that we pray for, like someone’s healing or salvation).  They are also about connecting the dots between God’s power and what happens on this earth, as well as helping to develop our own faith.

Jesus answers the (semi-rhetorical?) questions from the previous verses (see above), and then asks another question:

I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:8 NIV

https://luke.bible/luke-18-8

God will bring justice to those He has chosen, especially as they pray to Him for justice.  The question is not God’s faithfulness (which should never be in question, having been consistently and reliably demonstrated: both throughout history, and in our lives today).  Instead, the question is whether or not we will be faithful.

If we pray about something, but then give up after a while (before we see a yes or no answer), what does that say about us?

  • Do we not believe that God hears us?
  • Do we not believe that God will answer our prayers?
  • Do we think that we’re smarter than God and that we know better than Him what timing is best in His plan?
  • Do we think that we’re more important than God and can tell Him what to do, along with when to do it?

I don’t think that our lack of faithfulness in prayer is about God.  I think that it’s about us and our faith.  May Jesus find us faithful when He returns.  May He find us still praying for justice, and all of the other things that are important to God.

Just as Jesus was teaching His disciples to not give up, we must not give up in our prayers.  Personally, I have people and situations on my prayer list that have been there for a very long time.  They are still there, and – while I don’t necessarily pray for them every single day – they remain on that list, and I continue to pray for them.

Luke gave us the action that we should take from the first parable in verse 1: we “should always pray and not give up”.  That’s easy to say, and a little harder to do, but there’s a reason that we continue to pray for those who have been sick for a long time, or in treatment for a long time, or recovering for a long time.  Until God clearly answers our prayers (whether “yes” or “no”) or Jesus brings us home, we have an obligation to not give up in our prayers.  Those prayers may change over time, but we must not quit because we think that God isn’t hearing us or isn’t able to answer.


From Sunday School lesson prepared for May 29, 2022

References:

  • The Lookout, May 29, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
  • The College Press Commentary, Luke, by Mark C. Black.  College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.
  • Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.

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