Does the Number of People Praying for Something Make God More Likely to Do It?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Does the number of people praying for something make God more likely to do it?

That is a very good question.

I thought a lot about that early on when I came to Bethlehem and preached a sermon called "The Line of Prayer". In the manuscript that was published 25 years ago, I drew it: the line of prayer.

It was based on 2 Corinthians 1:11, which says, "Join me in praying so that, when God answers, God will be glorified in answering many prayers."

This is where this question comes from, because Paul thinks God gets more glory if many people are praying for a thing and he does it than if two people are praying for a thing.

Now this whole group is saying, "Praise God for answering the prayer!" And over here you have two people saying, "Praise God for answering the prayer!" And God loves it when lots of people praise him.

If it is true that God may be inclined to answer something because more people are praying, it wouldn't be because more people twist his arm as if they have more power with him. Rather, he is foreseeing the kind of effects that would come from a broadly-prayed-for thing than a narrowly-prayed-for thing.

So I'm answering, "Sometimes God may in fact answer a prayer because more people are praying." But there are other factors—right?—like faith. And desperation.

Say you've got a solitary soul, desperate for God because something is coming at them in life, and they're crying out to God. That person's faith and that person's need is vastly more constraining in the way God processes prayer than if you were kind of cavalier and called somebody up and said, "Let's get 5 or 6 folks, and...."

In other words, there are more things than numbers going on when we pray. "Pray believing," Paul said. So faith matters.

And, if you go and read 2 Corinthians 1:11, you'll see the other factor does matter.

©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org