Preaching & Teaching

When Prayer Becomes a Crushing Burden

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer. 1 Peter 3:12 (NIV)

What does it mean to pray with faith? Some Christians are confused and perplexed about what the Bible promises about prayer. Here is a common situation. Perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself.

A loved one becomes ill, and the illness is serious, so family and friends begin to pray, but then over time the situation becomes worse. Then someone says, “If we only had more faith, God would answer our prayers.” But, as people continue to pray, there is an increasing sense that life and death lies in the hands of those who pray. At this point, faith is no longer about trusting God. It is about convincing ourselves that what we are praying for is going to happen.

But if what we are praying for does not happen, we will face two problems: One is that we may come to blame ourselves, and that’s a crushing burden. The other is that we begin to resent God. This too is a crushing burden. Either way, we have put ourselves in the place of God, and we take on a burden that only God can bear.

So what does it mean to pray with faith? There are two kinds of prayer for two different situations. First, faith prays with assurance when God has made the outcome known. And second, faith prays with submission when God has kept the outcome hidden.

It is important to know how to use them, and to learn how to distinguish them.

Have you ever felt the crushing burden of prayers that were not answered the way you’d hoped? What happened?

Colin Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, a multi-campus church located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and president of Unlocking the...

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