First, a caveat. If you read this blog regularly, you know my commitment to prayer. So, I am in no way arguing that prayer is somehow ineffective or unnecessary. I simply want us to think about times when we need to do more than pray:
- When we’re praying for someone to get saved, but we’ve made no attempt to share the gospel with that person. God is surely sovereign over salvation, but He uses us to tell the story.
- When we’re praying for God to bring a wayward believer to return to God, but we’re not willing to confront that believer. Again, God calls us to help restore fallen brothers and sisters (Gal 6:1).
- When we pray for God to provide financially for our church, but we’ve offered no stewardship training for our members. Why should God provide when we haven’t discipled?
- When we’re asking God to free us from a controlling sin, but we keep putting ourselves in the same wrong place . . . with the same wrong people . . . at the same wrong time. Praying for freedom without also choosing wisely is lacking something.
- When we’re pleading with God to give us clarity about an issue, but we haven’t opened His Word on a regular basis in a long time. We shouldn’t expect God to answer this request when we ignore His primary means of speaking to us.
- When we’re asking God to show us His will, but we already know what we’re going to do regardless. This prayer is a bit superfluous when we’ve already decided what “will” we will follow.
- When we’re pleading with God to give us mature believers to help lead the congregation, but we have no equipping strategy in place to raise them up. Churches with no intentional discipleship strategy seldom develop a good leadership pipeline.
- When we’re praying about any need, but not repenting from our own wrong. Unconfessed sin in unrepentant lives gets in the way of our prayer channel (Isa 59:1-2).
- When we’re praying about something, but not forgiving someone who has wounded us. Here’s the way Jesus spoke to this issue: “Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for—believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing” (Mark 11:24-25).
- When we’re praying for God to use us as we preach or teach, but we’ve been lazy in our preparation during the week. Thank God His word is powerful beyond our feeble efforts, but we cannot assume God will bless our poor work ethic.
What do you think? What times come to mind for you?