I received an email asking about whether or not someone should just ask God one time for whatever you are asking about in prayer.
Apparently someone has made a statement that you only need to petition God one time per whatever your specific prayer request may be. He says that if you ask God more than one time to answer your specific prayer, that you are showing doubt and unbelief.
I will give you my own personal opinion on this issue. I have heard this subject debated many times and it does confuse many Christians.
First of all, if your friend is making the statement that this principle applies for every single prayer situation that you may find yourself involved in – then I believe he is dead wrong!
There are times you may only need to ask God one time for something you may need from Him. It may be for something trivial. The Holy Spirit will let you know that once was enough on your prayer request.
At this point, you will pick up an inner knowing from the Holy Spirit to let it go and that God will answer the prayer for you if it is in His will for you to have what you are asking Him for.
However, there are definitely other times that you will have to press in and ask God more than one time for what you are praying for.
This is called “prevailing prayer.” This is where you really get serious with God on what you are praying to Him for – and one time at the altar is not going to cut it!
When you go into prevailing prayer, you are seeking to move God to answer your prayer. By pressing in and asking Him more than one time for a specific request – you are showing God that you mean serious business with Him and that you are not taking the matter lightly.
God loves it when His people go into this mighty prevailing prayer mode with Him!
Some people call this “prayer warfare” or “wrestling with God.” I will give you several good Scripture verses below to back up my point on prevailing prayer, and that the Bible does us show that we can “bug” God for some of our specific prayer requests from time to time.
In addition to what I will list below, there is one book that I believe may be one of the greatest books ever written on prevailing prayer.
The name of the book is “Mighty Prevailing Prayer” by Wesley Duewel. This book deals with prevailing prayer. It gives all the Scripture verses to back up this principle, along with incredible insight as to why God does have it set up that at certain times you will have to go into this mighty prevailing prayer mode with Him to get Him to answer your specific prayer.
I guarantee you that if you read this book in its entirety, you will be be totally convinced that prevailing prayer is definitely biblical and that it is something that God would love to have more of His people do with Him.
Sometimes mighty prevailing prayer is the only thing that will get God to answer your prayer! The reason prevailing prayer works so well with God is because you are showing Him that you really want what you are asking Him for.
You are showing Him maximum intensity and maximum persistence!
You are showing Him that you are willing to “pay the price” to get Him to move by continually asking and pressing Him to answer your prayer need.
You are willing to shed some time, blood, sweat, and tears if needed to get Him to move.
Jesus says in the Book of Revelation that He will spew you out of His mouth if He finds that you are too lukewarm. Jesus says you are better off being too cold than too lukewarm. At least when you are too cold, you are at the other extreme end of the scale.
It really is “all or nothing” with the Lord. Everything about God the Father is maximum intensity, and He loves it when His own people show that same kind of intensity towards Him – especially in the arena of prayer.
The Parent-Child Analogy
Liz, here is an analogy that I feel God gave me to fully understand this principle. The analogy is the parent-child analogy.
Imagine you have a 9-year-old son who you love with all of your heart. You have established a very good, loving relationship with him. Imagine he comes up to you and he wants something specific.
A new game, a new toy, a new baseball glove, etc. Here is what a good and loving parent will do at times.
Kids are always asking for things all the time. It’s just in their immature nature to want everything they see. You, as the knowledgeable parent, will know most of the time what he really needs and what he doesn’t need. So many of the times you will not give him everything that he will ask for.
Why? Because you know the toy or object he is asking for will be discarded in a day or two after he gets tired of it. Or it may something that you know that he really does not want, but he is asking just to be asking for it. And so you deny the request.
He may throw a fit for a day or two, but then he gets over it – until the next request.
Now imagine all of a sudden your child comes up to you one day asking for paint brushes, oil paints, and a canvas. He wants to start drawing and painting. Why? Because he saw it on TV and he wants to see if he can actually do it.
Your first response may be not to give it to him. He is too young. He will make too much of a mess. He has never shown any artistic ability, it will be a complete waste of time.
You do not think he is really serious about it and you deny his request the first time he asks for it thinking that will be the end of it and that he will never ask you for it again.
Then all of a sudden, two days later, he comes back once more asking for the paint brushes, oil paints, and canvas. However, this time he starts to become much more persuasive in his argument to you as to why you should give it to him.
You are really not too sure of his sincerity, so you deny his request the second time around. However, you start wondering in the back of your mind if he really may be serious about wanting these objects. You then decide to play it cool to see if he will come back a third time.
You figure if he comes back a third time, which would be out of his normal behavior pattern, that he may just be really serious about it and that he really does want to explore the possibility of seeing if he has any skills or abilities in this area.
You thus are going to test out his ” intensity and desire” for this particular request.
You figure if he asks you a third time for the paints, that you may just consider giving it to him.
Why? Because he is showing maximum desire and maximum intensity for wanting to do this.
Then he comes back two days later and once more asks you for the paints. However, this time he is begging you for the paints, he is pleading with you to give him the paints.
He simply has to have the paints. He thinks he may have some possible artistic talent that he wants to explore. He is so insistent this time that he simply will not take no for an answer – he is that determined to get this from you.
And what would be your natural, loving response to such a “pleading request?” You will want to immediately go out and buy it for him. Why? Because he has shown you that he really does want to try the painting out.
It is no longer a whim – it is now a real desire – and your love for him will want to satisfy that desire, and you will now give it to him to see if he has any artistic talent and allow him to explore that possibility – all because he has now shown you enough desire and intensity to want to try it out.
And what was it that got you to do this for him?
It was his persistence, intensity, and desire! He was showing you that he really wanted the paints by continuing to ask you for it more than just one time!
If he would have only asked one time for the paints, he would have never received them from you because he would not have shown you enough desire and persistence. And it is the exact same way with God the Father!
Sometimes God does not answer some of our prayers because we are not showing Him enough desire for the specific thing that we are asking Him for.
I wonder how many prayers are never answered by God because He is never approached more than one time for a specific prayer request?
I believe God will sometimes test your resolve on a matter before He may consider bringing a request to you. And one of the ways that He will do this is by seeing how often and how intensely you will ask Him in prayer for this specific thing.
Here are several good Scripture verses to back all of this up.
The Scripture Verses
I believe this is one of the major verses in all of Scripture on how to get answers to your prayers. However, before Jesus goes on to state this verse, He is actually telling a story about a man, who because of his persistence, will get what he needs from someone else.
Even though I have talked about this verse in Prayer Secret #5, I will go ahead and list this entire verse once again and highlight a couple of things for you. Jesus is giving us major revelation on the importance of being persistent with God when He is looking for this quality to answer a specific prayer request. Here is the verse. The title of the passage is “A Friend Comes at Midnight.”
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him;’ “and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give it to you’?
“I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet BECAUSE OF HIS PERSISTENCE he will rise and give him as many as he needs.”
“And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:5-9)
There are two things to really grab a hold of from this verse. The first part of the verse is talking about a friend to a man who needs bread for someone who has come to see him.
This man’s friend does not want to bother with his request because he is asking this favor too late at night and he does not want to get out of bed to do it.
Then notice what Jesus says next. He says that the man’s friend will not go out of his way to give him the bread because of the late hour.
However, Jesus is implying that if the man continues to press his friend for the loaves of bread, that his friend will end up giving in because of his persistence and the fact that he will not let the matter go.
Even though the story does not specifically say that the man continues to hound his friend for the bread, Jesus is definitely implying that this man will be given the bread if he just continues to press the matter with his friend.
Jesus is saying this man’s friend will give him the bread not because of their friendship – but just simply to get the man off his back due to his continued persistence.
I believe that Jesus is giving us a major prayer secret with the comment that He makes off this story.
The prayer secret would be that there could be times that we can be persistent with God the Father on some of our prayer requests when the need dictates that we take this type of an approach with Him.
And if we show God enough persistence and intensity in our prayers to Him, then we may have a good chance of getting Him to grant the prayer request – simply based upon the persistence being shown to Him.
Secondly, Jesus then immediately goes into what I feel is one of the most powerful Scripture verses on getting God to answer your prayers when He states the ask-seek-knock verse.
First of all, notice that Jesus comes in with the ask-seek-knock verse right after telling the above story. This means the ask-seek-knock verse is tied to and connected to the implications of this story.
I call the ask-seek-knock verse my “fighting verse” whenever I have to approach God in prayer for something specific. When I first started to study this verse, I asked the Holy Spirit exactly what was meant by it. I was always a little perplexed about it.
I thought if you had asked and you had already received what you were asking for, why would you ever need to seek or knock?
Ask-seek-knock are three separate conditions. They are all in the same sentence and separated by semi-colons. I thought maybe the translators of the Bible may have made a punctuation mistake and the semi-colons should have been periods, completely separating the three conditions from one another.
But here is what I feel the Holy Spirit has conveyed to me on exactly what this verse means.
The semi-colons are the correct punctuation marks to be used in separating the three conditions from one another. What this verse means is that sometimes all you need to do is ask God for whatever it is you want and He will give it to you. You will not need to seek or knock.
Another time you may ask and not receive, but you will find it as you start to seek after it. In other words, do not give up because you did not receive it when you first asked for it. Sometimes you then have to go into the second mode, and that is to seek after it.
This is where many Christians miss getting answers to some of their prayers. Too many times they give up with God after asking for it a few times. Maybe God wants to answer your prayer, but there may be some other things that He will want you to do before answering the prayer.
There may be some things you will need to seek after before He will answer the prayer. Or maybe He wants you to show Him enough persistence in your continued asking of it.
This is where asking God more than one time to answer your prayer comes in. When you start “hounding” and “bugging” God the way the boy did with his mom on the oil paints, you are showing God maximum persistence and determination – and that just may be what will get God to answer your prayer. And Jesus is specifically implying this in the first part of the above passage!
Then sometimes you ask, you do not receive – you seek, and you do not find. Then you are brought before the third condition – knocking.
Knocking represents a very earnest desire for whatever it is you are asking of God. Knocking means that you keep knocking until you get some kind of an answer one way or another from God on your request.
The other thing I felt that the Holy Spirit conveyed to me about this verse is that sometimes you may just need to meet one of these three conditions and God will give you what you are asking for. Ask and you will then receive – you will not need to seek or knock.
Or you may be seeking after something, but not really asking God for what you are actually seeking after. God may then be moved by your intense seeking and He may all of a sudden give you what you are seeking after even though you had not officially asked Him for it.
This happens quite a bit on the pursuit of knowledge. Sometimes you are trying to get revelation on something, but you have not asked God to help you get it. Then all of a sudden God will give you illumination through the Holy Spirit just because you were seeking after it!
The other piece of revelation that is coming off this verse is that sometimes you may only need to meet one of those conditions before God will answer the prayer.
At other times, you may need to meet any two of those conditions. And at other times, you may have to meet all three of these conditions before God will move to answer your prayer. In other words, you will have to ask, seek, and knock for whatever it is that you are asking God for.
How do you know which of the three conditions to go into when you approach God for a specific prayer request? This is where the Holy Spirit will come in.
The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is our “Helper.” He is the Master Prayer to God the Father. I believe that He knows most, if not all of the time, whether or not God has any intentions on answering your specific prayer request and if God will answer it, which of these three conditions you will need to go into to get your prayer answered.
I do not know where you are in your connection with the Holy Spirit. If you have established any kind of good, personal connection with Him – many of the times you can just pick up with an inner knowing as to whether or not you should even approach God with a specific prayer request.
The first thing you will have to determine is whether or not your specific prayer request will be in God’s will for your life. If it is not, then you will be wasting both your time and His time by praying for it.
However, if you do receive a good “release” from the Holy Spirit to go ahead and approach God with your specific prayer request, the next step would be to see if the Holy Spirit will let you know how to play the ask-seek-knock verse and which of the 3 modes you may have to go into.
Many of the times you can just “feel it” or “sense it” in your spirit that all you have to do is simply ask God once or twice for the request, and you will not have to get yourself all worked up by going into any kind of seeking and/or knocking modes. It will that be simple.
Other times, you can pick it up from the Holy Spirit that you are going to have to go into a continual asking and seeking mode to persuade God to answer your prayer. You will have to “pray it through” until you get a “release” from the Holy Spirit that you are now done.
I do not want to go any deeper on this part, as this would be another whole article itself. Just one last piece of advice on the above verse.
If you cannot seem to get any kind of read from the Holy Spirit as to which mode to go into with God on your prayer request – just fall back on this: When in doubt, just pray it out. You will have nothing to lose.
2. Wrestling With God
There is a very fascinating verse in the Bible about how Jacob had wrestled with God and had prevailed. You have probably heard this verse talked about many times in your church. Here is the verse:
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me”…. And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have STRUGGLED WITH GOD and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:26)
Notice that Jacob had literally struggled with, wrestled with God – and he had won, he had prevailed. And as a result of wrestling with God, he was rewarded!
This also happened with Moses in the wilderness with the children of Israel. As Moses was receiving the 10 commandments, God gets furious with His people because they are starting to rebel against Him at the bottom of the mountain. God gets so mad, that He literally wants to kill and consume all of them right there on the spot.
Then Moses steps into the gap and starts wrestling with God – pleading his case before God as to why He should not kill them. God then changes His mind and decides not to kill them just because Moses wrestled with Him on this issue. Just like Jacob, Moses had wrestled with God and he had prevailed!
These two stories are giving us a major, powerful, prayer secret with God the Father. They are showing us that at certain times, we can approach God with a very serious prayer request and go into a “wrestling-prevailing” prayer mode with Him.
Your job is to try and convince God to answer your prayer. God says in the Bible to approach Him and “State your case. Let us reason together.”
You obviously have to know when to be able to approach God on this kind of basis. This is really something that should be done “in the Spirit.”
You better have a release and authorization from the Holy Spirit before you approach God for this kind intense wrestling match. This type of prayer is extremely intense and will wear you out if you are not under the Holy Spirit’s guidance and anointing to go into it. Again, this would be a whole another article, so I will not go any deeper with it at this time.
But just realize that this is an option for all Christians, and that there are certain situations in which you can go into this kind of intense wrestling mode with God the Father.
And when you do, asking God just one time for your personal, prayer request is obviously not going to get the job done! You will really need to press in to take a hold of God to try and get Him to move on your request.
God says in the Old Testament that where are the people who will try and take a hold of Him? He is looking for mighty prayer warriors.
He is looking for wrestlers in the Spirit that will wrestle with Him and try and take a hold of Him in order to move Him to answer a specific prayer request. He loves wrestling matches the same way young children love to wrestle with their daddies.
3. Fervent Prayer
This next verse is another powerful verse from Scripture that is emphasizing “fervent prayer.” Again, fervent praying is implying some level of intensity in your praying – with the implication that asking and pressing in just one time for your specific, prayer request will not be enough to persuade God to answer your prayer. Here is the verse:
“THE EFFECTIVE, FERVENT PRAYER of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he PRAYED EARNESTLY that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:16-18)
Notice this Scripture verse gives Elijah as an example of someone who was fervently praying to God for a supernatural miracle in reference to the rain. The above verse says he prayed “earnestly”.
Even though the above verse does not tell us how many times Elijah prayed for this miracle – the implication is really there that he probably prayed for it more than one time.
Thus praying “earnestly and fervently” is implying a higher level of intensity to your prayers. And I feel they are both implying, with this higher level of intensity, that there will be times that you will have to press in and ask God more than one time to grant your specific prayer request.
4. Pray Without Ceasing
The next verse uses the phrase to “pray without ceasing.” You could probably look at this verse in two ways. If your friend is correct about only needing to pray one time for each prayer request, then this verse would mean to pray without ceasing for a variety of different matters because, according to him, after you pray one time for something, you would have to move on to the next prayer request to satisfy the conditions of this verse.
The second way to look at this verse is that it would also apply to one specific prayer request. And you keep “praying without ceasing” until the prayer is either answered, or you get a “release” from the Holy Spirit to stop and let the matter go. I believe this verse is implying that both of the above scenarios apply to it.
You may have 10 different things on the altar with God and maybe God just wants you to ask once or twice for each issue and then let the matter go.
In your prayer session with God, you have prayed without ceasing as you have presented each of the 10 requests to Him and He does not want you wearing yourself out asking Him ten times for each request.
However, I feel this verse is also pertaining to the times where God will want you to keep pressing Him more than one time for one special prayer request. You continue to pray without ceasing until God either answers the prayer, or He gives you some type of answer as to why He may not want to answer the prayer. Here is the verse:
“Rejoice always, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, in everything give thanks …” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
A good example of praying without ceasing and praying fervently for one special prayer request to God would be when you are praying for someone who may be dying of an illness.
When you are looking for this big of a miracle – I personally do not think one time at the altar is going to cut it. There will be times you may only have to pray one time and God will then heal that person. However, I also believe there are times that you will have to press in and ask God way more than just one time to get Him to move on this type of life or death situation.
I know you just had a boy die of cancer in your church just recently. I also know people in your church were praying way more than one time for his healing. I do not know if you were one of them praying for his healing – but if you were, can you imagine just asking God once or twice for the healing, and then letting it go with that boy’s life on the line?
I believe that people’s spirits were crying out to press into God way more than one time to try and get Him to move in with the healing. I believe there were probably some powerful intercessors in your church that were in heavy prayer warfare with God to try to get His healing power released into that situation. And I’ll bet they were praying more than just one time for this healing!
1. Liz, in my opinion, the above analogy with the child and the paints perfectly describes what occurs in the spiritual realm between us and God the Father.
The Bible tells us that we have a Father-child relationship with God the Father. And I believe God would answer more of our prayers if we would consider using the approach that the child did asking his mom for the oil paints.
The mom will grant the request all because the child is continuing to press in and ask for it more than one time.
I believe that if you approach God with this kind of persistence, desire, and determination – that you can create a strong desire in God to want to answer your specific prayer! I believe the Holy Spirit gave me a real key in how you can get God to answer more of your prayers – and that key is to create a strong desire in God to want to answer your prayer in the first place.
In the above analogy, the child creates a strong desire in the mother to want to give him the oil paints simply because he is asking for it more than one time – and that there is also a real desire and earnestness behind his request.
I believe this same principle will also apply to God the Father depending on what it is we are asking Him for.
You always have to make sure that all of your specific prayer requests are in the will of God for your life.
But if you do get an answer from the Lord that the prayer request is in His will for you, and you get a good witness and release from the Holy Spirit to approach God with the request – then my advice to you would be not to be afraid to approach the throne of God more than one time for a specific request – especially if you have a very strong desire for the prayer request to be granted.
The earnest desire that you have for the prayer request, coupled with the persistence that you will show God by continuing to press into Him and asking Him more than one time – may just be the one-two punch that you will need to get God to answer your specific prayer.
And sometimes this is exactly how major supernatural miracles are brought down from heaven – by dogged persistence, determination, and intense desire in the prayer room!
2. Like the Bible says, God can be reasoned with. He says to come before Him to state your case. He says in the Bible for His people to try and “take hold of Him” – especially in the arena of prayer. I believe these verses are implying that we can wrestle with God on certain matters – just like Jacob and Moses did!
I believe the other verses stating “fervent prayer,” and “praying without ceasing” are also giving us revelation that we can approach God with this type of prevailing attitude in our prayer life with Him when the situation dictates that we take this kind of an approach with Him.
As you can tell, I firmly believe in the prayer strategy of praying more than just one time for certain prayer requests. You just have to know when to take this kind of an approach with God so you do not wear yourself out by going into this kind of prevailing prayer mode too often with Him.
Bottom line – be led by the Holy Spirit in your prayer life if you have established this kind of good inner connection with Him. Let Him lead you as to when you should pray, how often to pray, and how intensely to pray.
If you have not quite established this kind of good inner connection with the Holy Spirit at this time, then go ahead and pray it out on whatever you feel is appropriate to approach God with on your requests.
And if you have the desire to want to approach God and ask Him more than one time for a specific request – then go for it! You will have absolutely nothing to lose in taking this approach and everything to gain – especially if it is something that you are really wanting from God.
Liz, let me know if all of the above answers your question on this issue or at least provides you with some additional insight.
- Introduction to the Prayer Secrets
- Prayer Secret #1 Your Personal Relationship With God
- Prayer Secret #2 The Will of God
- Prayer Secret #3 God Will Hear the Prayers of the Righteous
- Prayer Secret #4 Stating Your Case Before God
- Prayer Secret #5 Ask – Seek – Knock
- Prayer Secret #6 The Prayer of Agreement
- Prayer Secret #7 The Power of Intercessory Prayer
- Prayer Secret #8 Praying For Something More Than One Time
- Prayer Secret #9 Do Not Lose Heart
- Prayer Secret #10 The Intercessory Ministries of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
- Prayer Secret #11 Mighty Prevailing Prayer
- Prayer Secret #12 Prayers of Thanksgiving
- Prayer Secret #13 Pray to God the Father in the Name of Jesus