Have you ever had someone ask you to “pray hard?” I have. Often it’s for a pressing personal issue or a distressing situation — and they implore me to “pray hard.”
When they say this, I think I know what they mean — or at least I hope I do. I think “pray hard” means, “This is serious, so don’t take it lightly — and don’t forget!”
However, they could be expressing an understanding of God that might be a bit off. If by “pray hard” they mean, “put forth more effort” or “work hard to get God’s attention,” then they’re implying that our degree of effort affects God’s response.
A similar situation is when a person prays and doesn’t like God’s answer. He or she may say, “I guess I just didn’t pray hard enough.”
I think this perspective puts too much responsibility on us and diminishes God’s character in the process. Yes, we do need to pray, but I don’t see God expecting us to jump through hoops or devote a certain amount of time before he listens and answers.
Sometimes a prayer may be a short, simple sentence. Other times it may be more lengthy or a mere groan. Sometimes we may pray for a situation just once and other times it may be every day, for weeks, months, or years.
These are all appropriate ways that God may lead us to pray, but to “pray hard” in order to get his attention isn’t one of them.