“Stan,” I said, “I had a great answer to prayer yesterday. I have been praying, seeking God’s favor, for a different position at work.”
“Fabulous!” Stan replied. “It’s always such a joy to receive God’s answers to prayer.”
“However,” he continued, “a word of caution. An answered prayer is not the time to stop praying.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“We are encouraged to pray without ceasing,” Stan replied, “And I know for a fact an answer to prayer comes with an expectation by God that I continue to pray for direction and guidance. In fact, at one point in my life, I had the exact same experience as you just mentioned.”
“How so?” I replied.
“I prayed and prayed for a new job,” Stan replied. “My prayer was answered and I stopped praying. It soon became clear I needed God’s continual guidance, leading, and protection in my new job. I didn’t pray for that, I was seeking to go it on my own, and the results were predicable.”
“The new job didn’t work out?” I asked.
“You, my friend, are a master at understatement! Not only did it not work out, it was a disaster. But out of that disaster, I was brought to my senses about being in continual prayer with God.”
Continuing, Stan said, “I saw the same thing in Mark’s gospel account about Jesus, where God the Father provided the miracle in feeding the five thousand. There was answered prayer in the feeding, but Jesus didn’t stop there.”
“No,” he added, “when the feeding was over, Jesus dismissed the crowd, the disciples got into a boat to go ahead of Him, and Jesus went away to pray. He spent time with His Father to get directions as to what to do next. And that ‘next’ was clearly shown.”
“What?” I asked.
“The disciples in the boat were in trouble; they were having a tough time fighting against the wind. Jesus was walking on the water, intending to pass them by, they were afraid, Jesus got into the boat, told the disciples to ‘take courage’, the wind stopped, and the disciples were astonished.”
Continuing, Stan added, “It seems to me the time Jesus spent in prayer, seeking the Father’s direction, clearly prepared Him to show the disciples another instance of His divine nature. He showed them He was the One who had control even over the wind and waves they were struggling against.”
Concluding, he said, “Answered prayer is not the time for me to stop praying. I may not know what’s coming next in my life, but God does. And He wants me to be ready to face whatever that may be.”
And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray. Mark 6:46.
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for allowing me to come before you in prayer. Thank you for answering my prayers in accordance with your will. I ask you to always lead my prayers so they are in agreement with your will. I confess I too often stop praying when you answer, rather than continually praying to seek your guidance as to what to do next. Please forgive my foolishness. And please help me in being in prayerful communication with you in all things so I will hear, listen to, and obey all you have for me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: What does “praying without ceasing” look like to you? Do you agree you should be in constant contact with God through prayer? Why or why not? Have you ever experienced a situation where, in retrospect, you realized you should have stayed in prayer for further guidance? If so, what did you learn from that experience?