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Praying After You Have Received Your Promise

Praying after you've received God's promise

What personal promises has God given you? Perhaps He has given you promises for your children, your marriage, your health, your career, your ministry—and He has asked you to respond in faith and believe Him to do what He promised. Do you believe that in such an instance, prayer is out of line? Do you feel that you would be acting in unbelief if you now prayed about it?

Or do you think that your only role was to shut yourself up with God and receive the promise — and now your part is over? Now the rest is up to God and there is nothing more you can or should do?

In the examples of Paul, Daniel, Elijah, and David, we see how we should respond in prayer after we have received a promise.

God Promised. Do I Still Pray About It?

We recently closed Pursuit 21 with a teaching about Waging War With Your Promise. There is another article on the site here that accompanies this teaching well. It’s called “God Promised: Do I Still Pray About It?” I wrote it over ten years ago, and with 500 articles on the site now, I had forgotten about it. But it’s perfect as we wage war in the weeks after the fast.

If you’re waging war with your promise, I believe that in this article you’ll find continued encouragement to pray, and fight, and believe and expect God!

The first part of the article, which is based on Acts chapter 9 and includes excerpts from Andrew Murray and Samuel Chadwick, examines how God views and esteems prayer. It then looks at how this passage of scripture demonstrates the importance of prayer after we have received a personal promise from God. This is where we pick up today…

Acts 9:11-12 says,

God told Ananias, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” (Acts 9:11-12, NIV)

In a vision, Paul had seen Ananias coming to restore his sight — God showed him this in advance. God desired that Paul’s sight be restored through Ananias’s visit. And the fulfillment was underway as God was sending Ananias to Paul. Yet, this did not preclude Paul from praying. Even though God had shown Paul that Ananias would come, place his hands on him, and restore his sight, Paul did not think there was no need of prayer concerning the matter. There was still a cause for prayer.

This principle is echoed throughout scripture, as we can see in the following excerpt from God Promised: Do I Still Pray About It:

Daniel

Daniel “understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years” (Daniel  9:1-2, NIV).

Daniel had God’s promise, His guarantee, that their captivity would end after seventy years. Did Daniel decide there was no need to pray?

The very next sentence says,

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes” (v. 3, NIV).

Elijah

“In the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!’ So Elijah went to appear before Ahab” (1 Kings 18:1-2, NLT).

God said He would soon send rain, which would end the drought. This is what we could term a “word from God,” or a “promise,” or a “prophecy” — it’s God saying in advance what He is going to do.

Soon after God told Elijah this, the contest between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal took place on Mount Carmel. The fire of God fell, burned up the sacrifice, the wood, stones, soil, and even licked up the water in the trench.

After the prophets of Baal were seized and killed, by faith Elijah told Ahab that it was going to rain.

“Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!’ (v. 41. NLT).

Elijah’s words to Ahab echoed God’s promise. Between the promise and the demonstration of God’s power in the contest on Mount Carmel, one could easily think there was no further need of prayer.

But after Elijah told Ahab, “I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” he went to the top of Carmel, bowed down to the earth, put his face between his knees, and prayed. He told his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” (1 Kings 18:42-43, NLT)

The servant came back with the news, “There is nothing there” (v.43, NIV).

Elijah sent his servant back to look seven times… all the while praying with perseverance and persistence. (v. 43)

 “The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea’” (v.44, NIV).

Elijah knew rain was coming, and yet he prayed until the servant had gone back seven times to look for it and the promise was fulfilled.

Elijah made a declaration based upon God’s promise. — In the absence of tangible signs, based upon God’s promise alone, Elijah told Ahab, “I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” He told Ahab what God was going to do. This is a vital element to faith. We studied this at Passionate Pursuit…. There are four stages to Biblical faith:

  1. Persuasion by Revelation
  2. Embracing by Action
  3. Confession by Declaration
  4. Conflict or Fight of Faith

Elijah had received the revelation — He knew what God’s will was concerning the rain. (God told Elijah, “I will send rain on the land.” 1 Kings 18:1).

Elijah embraced it by action — by going to the top of the mountain where he could see God’s inevitable answer, the storm clouds gathering.

He spoke as God does regarding the rain — God “speaks of the nonexistent things that He has foretold and promised as if they already existed” (Romans 4:17, AMPC). When the rain was nonexistent, Elijah spoke to Ahab as if it already existed.

Yet, this did not preclude prayer. The presence of Elijah’s faith did not eliminate the presence of prayer on the matter. Prayer did not denote unbelief.

About Elijah and his prayers, we are taught,

“Pray for each other…Elijah was a man just like us…He prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16-17, NIV).

David

In Waging War With Your Promise, we took a look at how David prayed after he received a promise from God:

“Now, Lord God, fulfill the promise forever that You have made to Your servant and his house. Do as You have promised… ” (2 Samuel 7:25, see also 1 Chronicles 17:23, HCSB).

The Good News Translation says:

25And now, Lord God, fulfill for all time the promise you made about me and my descendants, and do what you said you would… 28And now, Sovereign Lord, you are God; you always keep your promises, and you have made this wonderful promise to me.

David reminded God of His promise and asked God to do what He said He would do.

In Psalm 119, the psalmist (who many theologians believe was David) tells God to remember His word—the promise in which God had caused Him to hope:

“Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope” (Psalm 119:49, ESV).

When I picture Elijah bowed low in prayer as his servant looked for signs of rain, I envision him praying something similar to David’s prayer in 2 Samuel — “God, do what you said you would do!” Elijah had made a risky declaration based on faith in God’s promise. He had stuck his neck out and risked a lot with some dangerous, demented people. If it were you, don’t you think you would be echoing David’s prayer, too?

You and I can also echo David’s prayer and that of Psalm 119:49: “Father, remember Your word to Your servant in which You have made me hope. Fulfill Your word to me, Lord. Do what you said you would do.”

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Prayer Is Necessary for God to Fulfill His Promise

Paul saw his answer coming, and yet he prayed. In fact, the answer came — the vision was fulfilled — because he was praying.

Daniel had a promise from God concerning their captivity ending, and yet he prayed about it.

Elijah knew what God was going to do — He was going to send rain. In fact, Elijah told Ahab that it was going to rain. Elijah knew that according to God’s plan, rain was coming. But he still prayed until the servant had looked seven times…and the promise was fulfilled.

David had a promise from God, and he went to God in prayer about it.

Prayer is necessary for God to fulfill His promise.

But the kind of praying we engage in matters.

The Content and Attitude of Our Conversations With God Matter

It matters that we not live in a 24/7 state of complaining and murmuring. It’s even more important that we not deceive ourselves into thinking our constant complaining is unceasing “prayer.” (It’s actually unbelief and rebellion, and it grieves God.) Neither should we, out of doubt and worry, fill our conversations with God with begging, pleading, and attempts to twist His arm and force Him to fulfill His promise on our timetable.

It’s okay to be honest with God and tell Him how we feel. I recommended it here and here (sharing from my own experience and the wisdom of expert Biblical counselors, teachers, and theologians). Repressing our deep emotions about suffering is not a good thing. It’s okay to include this in our conversation with God. We see the psalmists do so in the Psalms of darkness.

But, as we see in Psalm 42, the psalmists’ conversations ultimately end up in a place of spiritual truth and faith.

The psalmist expresses feelings of hurt, sorrow, and disillusionment with God:

“My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
‘Where is your God?’” (vv. 2-3, ESV)
. . . .
“O my God, my life is cast down upon me [and I find the burden more than I can bear]… (v. 6, AMPC)
. . . .
I will say to God my Rock, Why have You forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (v. 9, AMPC)

Then, by faith, regardless of his feelings, the psalmist chooses to declare truth:

“Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me…. Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:8,11, AMPC).

It’s okay to express our frustration, weariness, and even our anger to God.

But if we want to see God’s promises fulfilled, we can’t camp out there and refuse to move on. We must, like the psalmists, declare what we know to be true according to scripture, even when it flies in the face of our feelings and every tangible circumstance before us.

We must ultimately listen to God’s gentle response and tender, correcting voice… We must move to a place of praying in faith, with firm trust and unshakable confidence in God and His wise timeline for fulfilling His promise. We should reach the place where we bring our requests to Him with praise, thanksgiving, and worship — not complaints and disguised attempts at manipulation.

Prayer Prepares Us for God’s Answer

As God is right now in the act of sending your answer, does He see you praying? What kind of “praying” are you engaged in? In complaining, or attempts to manipulate Him? In ceaseless rants of anger and frustration, void any acknowledgement or declaration of Biblical truth?

Or are you praying in faith — with firm trust and unshakable confidence in God and His wise timeline for doing what He promised?

Prayer prepared Saul for the answer. Ananias found Saul praying and waiting. It is not so much how prayer moves God or the coming of our answer, but how it moves us—into abiding in Christ, His life, His power and His truth.

Prayer changes us. It is not so much how prayer moves God but how it move us. When we wait on God in prayer and let Him speak to our heart, we often find that the resulting change in us is what releases the fulfillment of His promise.

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Prayer Moved Me… and Released God’s Answer

This is what happened in the decade of my twenties regarding God’s personal promises of restoration. God took years fulfilling His promises to me. In the long delay, as I dwelled in the Word and in prayer, God began to change me and my perspective of my situation.

Through Psalm 62, He caused me to put my hope and expectation in Him alone, and wait for Him alone. In prayer one day, He took me to that chapter of scripture, and as I prayed and internalized that passage the next few months, He began to make it real in my life. He brought me to the place where, as that chapter says, I looked to nothing and no one else but Him for help and deliverance.

He gave me the grace to be completely content to remain in my situation because of how it afforded me the rare privilege of knowing Jesus and His life and power—of having Him be my very strength, endurance, and existence. I finally reached the place of saying, “God I want you more. You’re worth more than anything this world has to offer.”

Prior to that, out of excruciating suffering, I begged and pleaded and got angry with God. I wanted Him to operate on my timetable. If He wasn’t going to fulfill His promise, end my suffering, and restore my life immediately, I wanted out… even if I had to take my life myself.

But when in prayer I experienced the resurrection power of Christ consuming my crucified flesh, I realized how glorious and incomparable He was. I saw my circumstance from His end-of-time perspective. And I finally realized how invaluable my experience of Christ was. Even if it meant continued suffering, it was worth far more than a life of restoration and ease. I wanted nothing more than Christ.

When I reached this point, I naturally surrendered. I gladly ceased my attempts at manipulation. I quit trying to control God and my circumstance. I didn’t even have to make a conscious effort to change. God just showed me two things side by side—knowing Jesus more intimately through suffering, versus an easier life absent the deeper experience of Him I had come to treasure. And it was hands down a no-brainer. I preferred Jesus, even if it meant further delay of God’s promise! My heart’s cry was, “If the only way to know Jesus intimately like this is to continue to suffer and be crucified, then that’s good with me. Just give me Jesus! I want to know Him and experience Him. Nothing else compares! Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere.

Through prayer, God had officially moved me. I was no longer the restless complainer and manipulator-in-chief. I no longer had to have my way. I no longer made threats to God, including threats to take my life, as veiled attempts at control. I wanted Jesus, and I wanted Him to have all of me — even my timetable for God’s promised deliverance.

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Then — right after that is when everything changed. It was as if God had been waiting on that switch inside me to finally flip. Because right after that inner change occurred is when God brought along the medical treatment He would use to eventually restore my life and fulfill His promises. Years later I came to see that God could never have fulfilled His promise had my attitude and perspective not changed… And it changed through prayer and praying the word.

But by then, the fulfillment of God’s promise was almost immaterial to me. It was insignificant compared to the degree to which I had come to experience the life of Christ. Regardless of whether or not my inner change provoked the fulfillment of God’s promise, that internal change was what brought me true peace and joy and contentment — and gave me true, eternal perspective. It was what caused me to treasure Jesus above everything this life has to offer. It was how I came to know the greatest gift I could ever receive. I had finally come to correctly assess my situation. I was finally okay with God’s wise plan for my life. I truly relinquished all control and wanted nothing more than Him and Him alone.

It’s definitely not how prayer moves God but how prayer moves us that matters. It matters when it comes to the depth and maturity of our spiritual life. It matters when it comes to our experience of Jesus and how we abide in His truth and power. It matters when it comes to the amount of peace we experience… And it matters when it comes to the fulfillment of God’s promise.

So pray on, dear brother and sister! Pray on as you wait! Pray on as God delays! Pray on! Get in the word and ask God to make the passages real in your life. Ask Him to give you the grace to treasure Christ and your fellowship with Him above the fulfillment of your promise. Ask Him to use prayer to move and change youand flip any switch in you that needs to be thrown. Yes, pray on! Pray on in faith with firm trust and confidence in God. Beloved, pray on!

As God is sending your answer, may He find you praying!

TweetablesMore Tweetables

  • Should we continue praying about something after God has given us a promise about it? Or would that be unbelief? In the examples of Paul, Daniel, Elijah, and David, we see how we should respond in prayer after we have received a promise. Click to tweet Tweet
  • Elijah prayed about God’s promised rain until it materialized. Daniel had a promise from God; yet he continued to pray about it. David prayed after God had given him a promise.—Praying after receiving your promise does not denote unbelief. Click to tweet Tweet
  • Prayer changes us. It is not so much how prayer moves God but how it move us. When we wait on God in prayer and let Him speak to our heart, we often find that the resulting change in us is what releases the fulfillment of His promise. Click to tweet Tweet
  • As God is right now in the act of sending your promised answer, does He see you praying? Or are you doubting, complaining and trying to manipulate Him? Pray in faith with firm trust in God and His wise timeline for doing what He promised. Click to tweet Tweet

Questions:

  • Do you believe that once you receive a promise from God concerning your need, further prayer is out of line? Do you feel that you would be acting in unbelief if you continued to prayed about it?
  • Do you think that your only role concerning your promise was to shut yourself up with God and receive the promise—and now your part is over? Now the rest is up to God and there is nothing more you can or should do?
  • As God is right now in the act of sending your promised answer, does He see you praying—as He saw Paul, Daniel, Elijah, and David doing?
  • Are you claiming you’re praying but actually you’re just complaining and murmuring to God? Are you begging and pleading, trying to twist God’s arm or force Him to fulfill His promise on your timetable? Or are you praying in faith, with firm trust and confidence in God and His timeline for doing what He promised? 
  • Are you expecting prayer to move God… or to move you?
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*  To see how to pray your promises and wage spiritual warfare using them, read Waging War With Your Promise.

*  For more about the value God places on prayer and how Acts 9 demonstrates it, read God Promised: Do I Still Pray About It.

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