You might read that title and think I’ve lost my mind. Why would I tell you not to pray? Aren’t pastors always telling people they should pray and pray more? Yes. There is a good chance you don’t pray enough in your life. As there’s a good chance I don’t pray enough in my life.
That’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is when you shouldn’t pray.
What I mean is that we often pray about things that Scripture is very clear on. Then, when we feel like God hasn’t given us an answer to our prayer (because He’s already given us an answer in Scripture), we decide to do something. Usually, not always, but usually this leads to us sinning in some way.
Here’s a few examples from recent conversations:
I talked to a guy who is a Christian, he’s dating a girl who is not a Christian. When I asked him why, he told me, “I prayed about it and I didn’t feel like God told me not to, so I’m moving forward with it.” The reason God didn’t tell him, is because he has already made it clear in Scripture that Christians shouldn’t date or marry a non-Christian.
A guy told me that he was praying about God using him more at his job to be a witness and serve his co-workers. The problem was that God didn’t seem to do anything. He told me, “God just isn’t speaking to me about how to do that.” One of the reasons might be I told him is that God simply wants him to just start serving people, start loving his co-workers. Nothing big, just small ways of loving people.
I talked to a church planter who worked only part-time while planting his church. He told me the difficulty he and his wife had when it came to finances, as she worked full-time, but he didn’t. When I asked him why, he told me, “I’ve prayed about it and God told me to wait and not look for a full-time job now.” When I pressed him on 1 Timothy 5:8 that says a man who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever, he told me, “God told me to just plant and for her to work.”
I talked with a couple who have 3 kids. One in school, two who aren’t. They were debating about whether or not the wife should go back to work. They told me they were going to have her go back to work because they prayed about it and God didn’t tell them no. When I asked them why they thought God didn’t move them in prayer, they gave me a blank stare. I explained to them how Titus 2 calls a wife to make her first priority her family at home, clearly when small kids are in the picture.
These are just a few examples of recent conversations, but my point is this: Many times we don’t need to pray about something, we simply need to apply what Scripture already says. We get so caught up in figuring out God’s specific will for something when he has already communicated clearly how we should live in Scripture.
No, your life is not the exception. You don’t get to disprove Scripture and live outside of it. When people tell me, “I know Scripture says this, but here’s why I’m _______________.” They’re simply telling my why it’s okay for them to sin.