Should We Pray Incessantly to Receive Answered Prayer? ~H.Hanko

When-You-Pray -HHankoFor our next Sunday night discussion group meeting we will be looking at two more chapters in Prof. (emeritus) Herman Hanko’s book on prayer, When You Pray.

I have been reading from the fourteenth chapter (“A Problem Connected with Petitionary Prayer”), where Hanko treats the tension between Jesus’ promise that whatever we ask the Father in His name He will grant (e.g. John 16:23-24) and the reality that the prayers of God’s people are not always answered as we seek and ask (as, e.g., Paul with regard to his thorn, 2 Cor.12:7-9).

In seeking to answer this “problem”, Hanko raises the question, “Is incessant prayer the solution?” And here he has some good things to say about the nature of our persistent prayers when God seems not to answer us.

Continuing our posts of selections from this fine work, we quote from this section today.

…Scripture calls us, in some instances, to be persistent in prayer when we do not immediately receive the things for which we ask.

However, some have a wrong notion of persistence. They hold to the idea that if only we will bombard heaven with prolonged and unceasing petitions, God will be prevailed upon to grant us these things. Or if only we come with enough people to storm heaven’s gates, God will, because of overwhelming numbers, give in to that which we seek. This seems often to be the idea behind prayer groups and prayer chains. It is not, of course, wrong for saints to come together for prayer. We are, in fact, urged to do this. But if our motive is to convince God of our requests by force of sheer numbers, we have a very carnal idea of prayer, which makes our prayers an abomination before God.

…The idea that incessant prayer and fervent prayer will guarantee our receiving that for which we ask – even if we want only material riches – seems to be the basic error behind the book The Prayer of Jabez. The author of this book considers the prayer of Jabez, which one can find in 1 Chronicles 4:10, a sort of magic incantation which, if prayed every day and frequently through the day, will guarantee success in obtaining from God what we desire. Although the book is a best seller, it is evil and leads God’s people into erroneous ideas concerning prayer. It is well to remember that no tricks on our part can manipulate God. He is too great for that (119-120).

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