What Does it Mean to Pray Hard?

What Does it Mean to Pray Hard?

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.

God may lead us to pray, but to 'pray hard' in order to get his attention isn't one of them. Click To Tweet

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of manmade traditions and practices. Read more in his blog, books, and personal weekly email updates.

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  • ron Posted May 20, 2016 10:25 pm

    After 18 years my wife left me and I just don’t feel like life is important anymore prayed and i prayed it’s been 6 months everyday I wake up not happy I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

    • Peter DeHaan Posted May 21, 2016 10:13 am

      Ron, I am so sorry to hear this. I will pray on your behalf, that God will provide you comfort and guide you to a trusted friend who can walk with you through this difficult time.

      (Also, check out https://www.thehopeline.com/.)

  • Mike Dean Posted June 27, 2016 11:32 am

    I just read your article, and the episode of the Baal prophets in 1 Kings 18 came to mind (along with Elijah’s mocking response).
    I am wondering if “praying hard” is meant to be synonymous with “praying fervently” (as referenced in Acts 12:5 and James 5:16)

    • Peter DeHaan Posted June 27, 2016 12:07 pm

      Mike, this is an interesting suggestion. I like the idea of praying fervently!

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