I received a letter the other day from a reader who wanted to know more about praying for miracles and how long a person should keep asking. My first response is to ask, "Just how serious are you about receiving your request?"
I realize the subject of faith is actually more complex than it seems and one that I have attempted to address in my new book, "Convictions and Considerations," which will be released this summer. There are many people, including myself, who are seeking and waiting on miracles for everything from financial breakthroughs to physical healing.
Most Christians understand the warnings against praying amiss and how God is not to be seen as a genie in a bottle, but at the same time, the Bible encourages us to step forward and not be afraid to present our petitions for needs that are important to us. Hebrews 4:16 reminds us, "Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Before we approach any situation with prayer, let us seek discernment and invite God to speak to our hearts as we listen and advance according to his directions. I believe every circumstance is unique, and once we have his instructions we can confidently press forward, knowing that he is orchestrating control of the situation.
When praying for miracles, some believe that we are only to ask God for something once and never mention it again. The idea is that he heard us the first time and will make his decision when he's ready without us having to continually aggravate him about it.
Others are convinced that a person should keep asking until they receive an answer because they believe God honors perseverance. In Matthew 15, there just so happens to be an interesting account about persistent and relentless prayer. In verse 22, we find a woman begging Jesus to heal her daughter, but the Lord did not immediately acknowledge her. She kept following him and crying even louder saying, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
The disciples told Jesus to send her away because she was being irritating and getting on everyone's nerves, but he did not. Eventually, she was in his presence and continued to worship and plead with him to intervene as she was absolutely not going to take no for an answer.
Finally, Christ spoke to her and announced, "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto you as you desire." The text concludes with confirming that her daughter was healed from that very hour. May we notice here that persistent intercession has nothing to do with God growing weary of our constant asking but has everything to do with the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
When planting seeds of prayer, it's the individual's responsibility to water them with constant confessions and confirmations. The nail is not driven in with one blow but rather with a steady and continual driving force of fervency, tenacity, focus and determination. We can increase the intensity of our prayers even more with fasting, which will draw us nearer to his presence and enable us to have a magnified spiritual clarity.
It's evident that most people at least subconsciously believe that God can manifest a miracle because when something tragic happens, we hear them say, "I'll be praying for you," which of course is wonderful.
Allow me to ask: When you pray, do you really believe God is going to create a miracle, or do you include if it is his will? There is nothing wrong with approaching our Creator and acknowledging his sovereignty because, if you recall, Jesus prayed with this spiritual awareness when he was in the garden just a few hours before he was arrested. "And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done," Luke 22:41-42.
May we consider that an important aspect of prayer is humbly agreeing with his decision. This does not cancel the concept of submitting our petitions or speaking God's Word boldly with faith and authority, but instead emphasizes the need to respect his plans and to hear his voice before we proceed and react. "Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible," Matthew 19:26.
William F. Holland Jr. is a minister and chaplain based in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Read more at billyhollandministries.com.