|Theme: There is a Time to Stop Praying
|Focus on: David
|Reading Portion(s): 2 Samuel 11 to 12 & Psalm 51.
|– Important Background Information
|– Helps you find strength in God
|What this article teaches you
|Conflicts do occur in prayer. This happens when we know what God’s will is and at the same time wish and pray for our will to come to pass. When God’s will and our will are thus in opposition, conflict comes in prayer. But we keep on praying hoping that God will change His mind and allow our desires to come to pass. Even then there comes a time when such praying has to stop.
It occurs when God clearly shows us what He desires. All circumstances will then be pointing in the direction of God’s will. There will remain no doubt about what God desires. It is then that we have to stop praying for our wishes. It is at this point that we learn to yield to God’s will. Then the peace of God shall come. Our perplexities would disappear at that moment. The future course of action will be crystal-clear. And we will once again worship the Lord.
In this account we read of the great sin in the life of David. He had remained in Jerusalem during the time the Israel army was fighting with the Ammonites. This occasion led him to commit adultery with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite. As a result she became pregnant. In order to cover up his sin David had Uriah killed by cunning means at the hand of the Ammonites. When he saw that Uriah was dead he married Bathsheba. In the course of time a son was born to them.
The Bible clearly records that what David had done displeased the Lord.
Now God sent Prophet Nathan to David. He told David the story of a rich man owning large number of sheep and cattle taking hold a poor man’s one little ewe lamb to prepare a meal for a traveler. This enraged the king and he pronounced judgment on the rich man by saying that he must die and pay for the lamb four times over because he had no pity.
Nathan immediately told the King, “You are the man!” He also pronounced judgment on the house of David. David was told that from within his household there will occur unlawful relations and that the sword will never depart from his house.
David meekly responded by saying, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Then Nathan told David that the Lord had taken away his sin and that he was not going to die. Yet because by doing such wickedness David had given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to show utter contempt he was told that the child born to him will die. And after Nathan had gone home the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David. He became ill.
David began to pray and plead with the Lord for the child. He fasted and in his house he spent the nights lying on the ground. He did not rise up from the ground even though the elders of his household stood around him. He refused to eat food. On the seventh day the child died. The servants did not have the courage to inform David about the child’s death fearing that he would do something desperate. Now David noticed his servants whispering among themselves and asked whether the child was dead.
When he was told that the child had indeed died David did a few things quite contrary to what was expected. He got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, changed his clothes and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house and at his request was served food which he ate.
His actions had taken the servants by surprise. So they asked him why he was acting this way: fasting when the child was ill and feasting when the child was dead! David answered by saying that he had hoped, though he was not certain, that the Lord would be gracious to him even though the judgment was already given that the child would die. He added that there was no point now in fasting since the child died. He also pointed out the fact that the child won’t come back to life though he may join him when he died.
In this prayer of David we find him walking on a tight rope. Looking from one side it may seem that he was resisting God’s will. Yet his actions after the child died does not support this view. This is because instead of getting angry at God for taking the child’s life he had gone and worshiped the Lord. Looking from the other side we come to know that he was hoping that God in His mercy would restore the child to him.
How does this kind of prayer occur in our lives? It happens when we know for certain that we have to take a particular decision or a journey or a job or anything likewise involving a change of direction. It happens when we also know that it is what God is leading us to do. Such praying occurs when our natural desires are quite opposite to what we are sure that God wants us to do. So we oppose the next step with all our heart. We try to delay the next step as much as we can. At the same time we earnestly keep praying to God to act in such a manner as to fulfill our wishes that clearly stand against His will.
It almost seems to be resisting God’s will. And at some point it can be truly resisting His will. At the same time it is not right to say that we are trying to oppose His will. What we may be trying to do can be described as trying to pray and persuade God to change the circumstances to suit our desires. When we pray thus we may get emotionally and physically drained. We get tired. We feel very unhappy. The prayer seems to get nowhere even though we pray much. Truly this kind of praying takes us nowhere.
Then it happens. God acts according to what He had shown us earlier; according to what He had told us would happen. One by one every circumstance will point to the way God has chosen. The uncertainty that had till then raged in our mind as to what course of action to take disappears. The mind becomes calm because the path is clear and the decision has been made. The time to stop praying has come.
It is then that our true test of character comes. Do we worship the Lord as David did or do we entertain bitter thoughts against God? This kind of praying should stop when the circumstances clearly point to what God wants us to do. But this stop to praying should lead up to something better–the worship of the Lord! When that happens you will be truly happy that you had stopped praying at the right time.