Does how much you pray matter?
For years, I have believed, along with many other Christians, my prayers are important. God hears my prayers. God answers my prayers. God listens when I pray. God wants me to pray.
Along the way, though, I think I have come to believe something not quite true.
A Small Lie Makes a Big Difference
I have believed, wrongly I think, the quantity of my prayers affects the quality of God’s answers. I have believed if I prayed more, then God would answer my prayer in a better way.
Perhaps if I prayed more often, then God would answer my prayers faster. As if I could speed God up by bothering Him over and over again.
Perhaps if I prayed more often, then God would answer my prayers in a better way. As if God would double what He was going to provide for me because I doubled the time I spent in prayer.
Perhaps if I prayed more often, then God would protect me from more bad things. As if God was actively using bad things to punish me all the time.
This small lie – that the quantity of my prayers affects the quality of God’s answer – led me to a lot of trouble. Well, okay, maybe it was innocent, spiritual trouble. It was still trouble. The problem is the connection between prayer and grace. We are saved by grace and we carry on as Christians by grace. Once we begin to make rules about how to “be more spiritual,” we are going wrong.
My internal rule about prayer left me feeling condemned often. I felt not good enough. I felt lacking in spiritual discipline. I felt unholy.
The Real Truth
Here is the real truth: God has made me perfect in Christ. God is making me holy in life. God has made me good enough in Christ. God has taken away my condemnation through Christ.
Does the quantity of my prayer affect the quality of God’s answer?
I challenge you to find a clear biblical example where this is true.
There are no clear examples where God requires many prayers prior to His answering. Instead, you can find lots of examples of prayers answered instantly.
The thief on the cross next to Jesus.
The centurion who came to Jesus.
Daniel in the lion’s den.
Samson in the temple.
God seems to answer prayer as it suits Him. Our wisdom is not enough to know the ‘right’ time for the answer to our prayer. Our knowledge is not enough to know the ‘right’ answer to our prayer. God knows already. He knows what we need before we pray. He knows when we will need it.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
You could try to relax this week. Do not stop praying! Just avoid the trap of believing God’s care, love, sustaining power, grace, provision, protection and help rely on your quantity of prayer.
These things do not rely on you.
God will give you peace, protection, provision and power because He loves you.