When was the last time you grew weary in prayer and wanted to quit?
Maybe you’ve been praying for a prodigal who seems farther from God than ever. Or for a spouse whose heart seems to grow harder and colder. Perhaps you’re in a season of unemployment, infertility, or loneliness, and nothing seems to change. Your prayers go up (you think), but they seem to hover above your head, then disappear like the morning mist.
If you’re struggling with prayer fatigue and fighting discouragement, allow me to share ten powerful reasons to keep praying, even when you want to quit.
1. Prayer always accomplishes God’s will.
Sometimes I wonder if my prayers accomplish anything. When I fail to see results, either immediately or over time, I grow discouraged. The apostle James instructed his church members to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16 ESV).
Great power doesn’t always describe the way I feel as I’m praying, yet there it is—in Scripture. The prayers of a righteous person don’t just have power, they have great power.
Notice the qualities of a dynamic pray-er: she has confessed her sins and comes to God with a clean heart. She pursues righteousness and follows the revealed will of her heavenly Father. James 5:16 reminds me that when I search my heart and my life, confess any known sin, and diligently follow God, my prayers will have great power, whether I see results or not.
2. God promises to reward us.
“But when you pray,” Jesus instructed His disciples, “go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:6).
God didn’t design prayer simply as a mental or spiritual discipline. Prayer is how we share our thoughts, questions, emotions, and needs with Him. If He invites us to pray, it’s reasonable and logical for us to expect Him to answer in the way He knows is best. Hebrews 11:6 describes this as the very essence of faith: “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
3. We don’t pray alone.
Long-haul praying, especially, is most effective when we don’t pray alone. Without the encouragement of another pray-er, we can easily grow weary and discouraged. To fight this, I’ve met monthly with a group of moms to pray for our adult children. We know we’ll be praying for these kids until the Lord takes us home, and we’re committed to being faithful to this call.
I prayed for seven years for my prodigal child to come to faith.Other moms are still praying for alcoholic sons, wayward daughters, and floundering kids. Praying together helps us persevere. Even if you don’t have a prayer partner or group to pray with, we’re never truly alone when we pray. Romans 8:26 reminds us of the prayer partner that never leaves our side. “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.”
4. Jesus prays with us.
It’s encouraging to know that the Holy Spirit adds His holy groanings to our prayers, but let’s consider these words from Jesus Himself: “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them” (Matt. 18:19–20).
How would it change your approach to prayer if Jesus knelt beside you as you prayed and added His amen to your requests? How would you feel if you looked up after the final amen of your church’s weekly prayer gathering and saw Jesus there? We don’t have to imagine this. Whenever we pray, Jesus is present with us, lifting our requests to the Father.
5. Prayer impacts our cities, our country, and the world.
How do you feel about the path our country is taking? Does your heart break over the decisions our elected leaders have made? Does your stomach churn in fear and anger when you look down the road and imagine what kind of world our children or grandchildren will inherit? Although it’s hard to imagine, life in the first century was even worse.
The apostle Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructed believers how to make the greatest impact on their society. “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1–4).
6. Prayers of thanksgiving help us persevere.
When we grow weary in prayer, we can apply Colossians 4:2 to our faltering hearts: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (ESV). The apostle Paul knew the church in Colossae would struggle, so he challenged them to continue “steadfastly in prayer.” Then he added two components: watchfulness and thankfulness. When we begin our prayer time with praise and thanksgiving, God opens our eyes to see everything He’s already done around us.
Developing “thankful eyes” that deliberately look for evidence of God’s love and care helps protect us from spiritual amnesia. When we acknowledge what we see, our hearts fill with gratitude. This squeezes out grumbling and discouragement. How can we wonder if God hears our prayers if we see evidence of His handiwork all around us?
7. Prayer helps us triumph over our enemies.
Who feels like an enemy in your life right now? A difficult boss or coworker? A belligerent child? An angry spouse? Perhaps you have true enemies—someone who’s trying to discredit your ministry, destroy your church, or ruin your family. One of the hardest prayer assignments is the command to pray for our enemies, yet Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). How can we love those who seem bent on our destruction? Seventeenth century minister William Law said, “There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him.”1
Prayer great J. Sidlow Baxter cracked the door on the believer’s secret weapon to impact those who resist them. He’s quoted as saying, “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.”2
8. Prayer brings peace to our hearts.
If you’re like me, you often feel completely overwhelmed by the demands of life. We wonder if our marriage will go the distance, our children will love God, and our ministries will bear fruit. We fear cancer, inflation, societal unrest, and the spiritual forces of wickedness. Some days the what-ifs dogpile us, and we can barely climb out of bed to face a new (scary) day.
“Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul instructed the Philippian believers, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6–7 ESV). If I had the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Army, and the Chief Medical officer of Johns Hopkins hospital on speed dial, I might feel pretty safe. Believers have something better—God. When we bring our requests to Him in thankful faith, we can trust that He will accomplish His perfect will in and through our lives. With a promise like this, we can rest in peace.
9. Prayer welcomes God’s will into our lives.
One of the sweetest fruits of prayer is a deeper understanding of God’s will. As we talk to God in prayer and listen to Him speak to us through our Bibles, we grow more like Him. His thoughts become our thoughts. His will becomes our will. We love what He loves and hate what He hates. Prayer warrior E. M. Bounds describes it this way: “Prayer makes a godly man and puts within him the mind of Christ, the mind of humility, of self-surrender, of service, of pity, and of prayer. If we really pray, we will become more like God, or else we will quit praying.”3
The closer we draw to God in prayer and Bible reading, the more we know what He would have us to pray. We begin to ask for the things God wants most to give us. Our prayers become less of “This is what I want,” and more of “God, I want what you want for me.” We are able to say with confidence, “I believe you know what I need, what experiences I must go through to grow my faith and refine my character, and how I should spend my life. If you don’t want me to have it, I don’t want it. If you do, I welcome it with faith and trust.” When we pray this way, 1 John 5:14–15 says, “This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him.”
10. Jesus commands us to never stop praying.
Jesus knew we’d grow weary. “In the world,” he said, “you will have tribulation” (John 16:33 ESV). He knew our tender hearts would break over the effects of sin in this world. He knew our souls would cringe every time evil triumphed and good people suffered. He knew we’d long for heaven, when all would be made right and there’d be no more sickness, dying, or pain. He knew the time between promise and fulfillment, faith and sight would be long. And hard. And heartbreaking.
Perhaps this is why He shared the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18, “that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (v. 1 ESV). I suspect He chose a widow as an example because widows were among the most vulnerable of all. With no husband to care for them, they were entirely dependent on the benevolence of others. They had no rights, no clout, and no resources.
Yet Jesus shared her example of persistent prayer to remind us that as the unjust judge saw her and granted her request, how much more will our kind and benevolent Father hear and answer our prayers?
I don’t know what challenging circumstances have caused you to grow weary in your prayers, but take heart. For these ten powerful reasons and a hundred more, we can pray on in confidence, knowing that our great and gracious God is working out His good and perfect will through our prayers. Pray on, sister. God is listening.
1 William Law, The Works of the Reverend William Law: Volume IV, (London: J. Richardson, 1762), accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Works_of_the_Reverend_William_Law/bFg7AQAAMAAJ, 228.
2 J. Sidlow Baxter, quoted in Cameron V. Thompson, Master Secrets of Prayer (Madison, GA: Light for Living Publications, 1990), https://www.google.com/books/edition/Master_Secrets_Of_Prayer/d3mMMz8vSpAC?kptab=editions&gbpv=1&bsq, 8.
3 Edward M. Bounds, Understanding Prayer: Its Purpose, Its Power, Its Potential (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2013), https://www.google.com/books/edition/Understanding_Prayer/3sp2Y9vGFyoC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq.