Question – “How long should I pray for something or someone?
Answer – That’s a good question! Sometimes we think that because God knows everything, including what we’re going to pray for, we should only pray for something once or twice and leave it at that. We may even think that anything more would be a lack of faith in God.
I think this response is wrong for the following reasons:
God commands us to pray. Yes, He knows what we’re going to pray and what we need, but all through the Bible we’re told by God to pray – to come to Him and express our thoughts and feelings. In other words, we have an obligation to pray and the Lord didn’t give us a limit on how much or how long.
The wording of Matthew 7:7-8 supports continuing to pray. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” In Greek, the words “ask,” “seek,” and “knock,” in verse 7 are present active imperative verbs, which means that we’re commanded to do these things continually. We’re to “keep asking,” “keep seeking,” and “keep knocking” – don’t stop.
The parable of the persistent widow supports the idea of continued prayer. Jesus tells this parable in Luke 18:1-8. The purpose of the parable is stated in verse 1 – “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” We’re to pray and not give up.
A correct understanding of prayer supports the idea of continuing to pray. We don’t pray in order to “twist God’s arm” or to get Him to change His mind and give us what we want. When we pray, our will and mind are brought into line with God’s – we find ourselves wanting what He wants and desiring what He desires.
So, how long should we pray? As long as it takes to get an answer. While you’re doing that, remember that God answers every pray (some with a “yes,” some with a “no,” and some with a “wait”). Keep praying and don’t lose heart.
For His Glory