The Holy Spirit gives us prayer responsibilities or assignments, or we can also call them ‘prayer burdens’. However, they can also come from other sources, so it is important to be sure not to commit to a prayer assignment without the consent of the Holy Spirit.
Listen to the indwelling leading and voice of the Holy Spirit
Prayer burdens usually come from four sources
1.Self – Very often, prayer burdens derive from our selfish desires or our feeling of compassion for someone. Such prayer burdens are quite tiresome. Though they are legitimate matters for prayer, such prayers are mostly need-driven and are prayed from our emotions without any real tangible power or guidance from the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord to show you self-imposed prayer assignments and release yourself from such burdens without feeling guilty or ashamed.
2.Other people – Preachers, friends or people in need can lay their burdens on us. Someone might come to you and say, “Will you please pray for me? Can I trust you to pray for me?” In their desperation, they try to force you to commit to pray for them. If we forget to do so, we feel guilty. A helpful answer in such a situation is to say, “I will pray as God leads me, directs and remind me to pray for you”. It doesn’t matter how urgent the matter is, how worthy the cause is, or how important the outcome of the specific issue is, do not commit to prayer assignments without the consent of the Holy Spirit.
3.The devil – Strangely enough, the devil can also give you prayer burdens. They are normally very heavy and they make you feel guilty if you do not pray, or you feel despondent. Such prayer burdens are usually accompanied by feelings of failure when you receive no answers to prayer, and they lead you to believe that your prayers are worthless and powerless; you may just as well stop praying! Obligated prayers are burdened with feelings of guilt and are not driven by love and passion that comes from the Holy Spirit.
4.The Holy Spirit – We must incline our ear to the indwelling leading and voice of the Holy Spirit when we commit to pray for specific issues. We need to acknowledge our need of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to be our Helper. He will show us and direct us. He will convict us of sin where necessary. He will guide us concerning how long we need to keep a matter in prayer before the prayer burden is released. Under such circumstances, God freely provides the spiritual power and direction through the Holy Spirit and strengthens us to persevere in prayer, giving us wisdom regarding what and how to pray. Be cautious of being quick to respond in prayer, or of falling into the trap of retaliation in prayer when something bad happens around you. First, pray and listen to God. We must only react once we know what is on His heart. A need or a crisis must never be the most important indicator for a response. If your prayers are need-driven, it will be very difficult to know how to pray according to the will of God for that specific situation.
When do I stop praying for a certain issue?
The following are some guidelines:
- When you see a clear answer to your prayers.
- When the burden lifts – the absence of unction to continue to pray about the matter.
- Sometimes, you won’t see an answer to the prayer, but you will know by the Holy Spirit within you, that the matter is settled. In such situations, stop praying and give praise to God, until you see manifestations of the breakthrough.
- When circumstances have changed to the extent that it is clear that a breakthrough has occurred.
- When you sense a positive peace in your spirit.
Don’t adhere to only one of these principles. When you start to have a clear and positive sense of peace, for example, most other points will align with the peace you are experiencing. If the majority of these principles don’t align, continue to pray.
This article was taken from “Knowing the will of God” by Bennie Mostert.