Is it possible to pray too much?

If you ask a pastor if it's possible to pray too much, they'll tell you there's no verse in the Bible supporting that.

In fact, many verses in the Bible encourage us to persevere in prayer, bringing our request to God again and again. Certainly there are cases when God answered a prayer only after a believer prayed for years and years.

But I believe there are some situations when a pause is needed. Let's look at those.

Praying too much or too much prayer?

In one sense, Jesus warned us about our prayers. The parable is found in the gospel of Luke, verses 18:10-15.


Two men went into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Now Pharisees were the super-religious people of Jesus' day, and they became arrogant in their keeping of the law. Tax collectors were just the opposite. They sinned every day because in their job, they extorted extra money from Jewish citizens.

The Pharisee let loose with a wordy, self-righteous prayer. The tax collector, sorry for his condition, said only, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Jesus said the humble tax collector went home justified.

In another instance, Jesus said longer prayers aren't necessarily better prayers:

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7, NIV)

God is our Father. Jesus is our brother. We should talk to them in a respectful but conversational way. We don't need to impress them, and we don't need to use King James Bible words like "thee" and "thine."

It's not the number or quality of words that counts; it's our sincerity.

Can you pray too much?

Prayer is talking with God, not just talking to God. What's the difference? In a conversation, both people have a right to speak. What does that mean in prayer?

It means God has a right to talk. If you do all the talking, you can't hear what he's saying. It's often been said God doesn't shout. He doesn't have to. He's God. But we do have a responsibility to be quiet sometimes and wait for his reply.

Just as we don't interrupt others when they're talking, we shouldn't interrupt God. How do we know when he's talking if we can't hear him? One thing is sure: God doesn't talk while we're talking.


We need to be quiet and let God speak.

In prayer, we shouldn't monopolize the conversation. Sometimes we have to pour out our heart to God, and there's nothing wrong with that. God isn't offended by our complaints and confusion. He wants to give us understanding.

We forget God usually replies through his written Word, the Bible. That's why many Bibles have a topical index in the back you can use to see what God has to say on various subjects.

A Concordance, a book which lists every word in the Bible, can also point you to verses on your topic. A lightning fast resource I often use is, which you can use to search the entire Bible.

When you're looking in the Bible for God's answer to your prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. His job is to help you interpret the Bible. Have you ever come upon a verse you've read dozens of times but suddenly it takes on a whole new meaning? That's the Holy Spirit at work in you.

When resentment creeps in


I'm not proud to admit it, but there have been many times resentment crept into my prayers. We can pray too much when we're angry at God for not answering when or how we'd like.

I was dictating to God what he had to do. Instead of asking, I was ordering. When you reach that point, it's time to stop praying and remember who is in charge.

If you've been praying for a godly spouse for years, take the temperature of your prayers and see if there's any bitterness in them toward God. It's hard to be objective. You may even believe you have a right to be bitter. I believed that, but I was wrong. You can pray too much if your prayers have become commands instead of requests.

Stop. Admit your anger to God. Repent. Stop praying for a while until you're able to settle down and resume a humble relationship with him.

This admission is very painful. I can tell you that because I had to do it, not once but many times.

That's what I mean when I say you can pray too much. When they're disrespectful prayers, they're not doing you any good. They're actually damaging your bond with your heavenly Father.

Persisting in what is wrong

In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus tells us to say, "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10, NIV)

We pray too much when we continually ask God to change his will to our will. It's fine to persevere with the same prayer, but it's wrong to tell God we know what's best for us instead of what he wants.


The real issue for us singles is asking God to provide a godly spouse. Can we ever pray too much about that? I personally don't believe we can. It's a legitimate request. In creating Eve, God said it is not good for the man to be alone. That holds for women too.

I cannot, however, explain to you why God answers that prayer in some singles' lives and not in mine or yours. It is a mystery I've been asking God to explain for 50 years. He is silent. I will get my answer when I meet Jesus face-to-face.

When we have the right attitude of love and obedience, we cannot pray too much. God is a personal God who wants an intimate relationship with us. Prayer—talking with him constantly—is a vital part of that.

(Pharisee photo courtesy

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