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When to stop praying

Read: 2 Samuel 12:15-15:37


With ease, you could be mentally over-encumbered thinking through the questions of morality that arose within today's reading. It would be unwise to try to digest, process, and unpack it all with a short daily thought (as this intends to be). I invite you to hold onto the thoughts, wrestle with the text and wrestle with God for an understanding. Take heart in remembering that just because something is recorded in the Bible it does not mean it is prescribed or something to replicate. What is interesting about the Bible is that history tends to be recorded and penned by the victors. Victors don't tend to record their own fallings. Whereas the Bible, time and time again records where and when the people of God failed. (This is perhaps most easily recognizable within the book of Judges with the repeated line 'all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes'). The Bible is at liberty to record the failings of man because man was never the main character or hero. The Bible narrative shows the relentless pursuit God has for His people - not the other way round. Every time man turns away from God, God acts to bring us back. One of my favorite verses in the Old Testament is 2 Samuel 14:14 'Like water spilled on the ground, cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him (Emphasis added). This is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. Despite God giving David everything anyone would consider to make up a good life, David pursued an adulterous relationship alongside killing-off a loyal soldier. Despite all of that God did not evoke 'an eye for an eye' style of justice upon David. Nathan declared "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die but because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die" (2 Samuel 12:13-14). David's response was intense. He pleaded for the life of His son, doing all he could to show the seriousness and sincerity within his remorse. Unfortunately, after seven days the child died. To the surprise of the Palace staff, David quickly returned to a more regular pattern of life (v21). When asked as to how he could return to normality given all that had happened he replied: "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows?' The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live. But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me"(v22-23). Occasionally I meet people who are stuck in the past. They are praying for something that has well and truly died. They are emotionally in a rut and feel if they keep pushing God harder perhaps He will relent and resolve the apparent injustice. I feel that this text puts forward that there comes a point where the prayers should cease and the person should move on. John Piper says this, “Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” This is not to say that God can't perform miracles nor is it to deny the witness and teachings of Jesus in the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18), but to recognize that God's plans are not our plans, His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways. Even Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane had a request through prayer rejected despite sweating blood (Luke 22:39-46). Because Jesus' prayer was rejected ours today can be answered. I find it comforting to reflect that the power of our prayer never lies within us or in our words, but in whom we pray too. God is sovereign, God is just, He sees the bigger picture. I conclude with a Tim Keller quote: 'God always answers your prayers in precisely the way you want them to be answered if you knew everything he knew.'


God bless

Daniel.

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Bethany City Church, Bede Tower, Burdon Road, Sunderland  SR2 7EA

Reg Charity Number: 1112606

Bethany City Church

Bede Tower, Burdon Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR2 7EA

email: info@bethanycitychurch.org

Telephone: 0191 5654000

Registered Charity Number 1112606

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