I caught myself saying the same prayer several times last night and I stopped and wondered why. There was a lot of lightning and wind so I asked God to protect the house several times. Not all at once or over and over, but I would be thinking about the possibility of damage that could be done and asked for protection. Doesn’t sound that bad. Now I stopped using the hedge of protection prayer because it seemed like I wanted a hedge around everyone. This prayer was just asking for protection, but it just felt odd when I thought about it. Once I realized I had said the same prayer more than 3 times, I stopped the process. I ask forgiveness for stuff like that even though I know I am already forgiven. Another habit but it a way of acknowledging a change.
So why do Christians do that? Or am I alone in this habit?
I would like to chalk it up to religious practices, but I am not sure if that is all that it is. Sometimes it seems like I am not really trusting God to do what I am asking. Now, I know God doesn’t answer every prayer. If you are praying against the will of God, it just isn’t going to happen. I am ok with that, but I didn’t feel like He wasn’t going to answer. I felt like I was more focused on the potential result, in this case damage to my property, than on resting in His peace. After I acknowledge my actions and stopped the useless repetition, I rested in the peace and it never crossed my mind again.
This was partly on my mind because I have been praying about prayer. I want to understand it more and who better to teach then God, right? That was partly fueled by a discussion on another blog about how Christians like to use positive results in prayer to “prove” that prayer works. I tend to agree with that sentiment. If our prayer is not realized, we have a tendency to put it off that we were asking for something that God didn’t want us to have. Now I say realized instead of answers here because there seem to be times when God answers our prayers but we don’t accept it or hold it as true. If I am expecting the result to be X and God provided Y, I am still looking for X even though I should be living in Y. How many times do we ask God though? Is it ask once and wait or should we ask over and over again? This is one place I get stuck in my concept of prayer.
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
Daniel had been praying for awhile, but God had answered Daniel when he first had started praying. Should Daniel have only asked once and waited for God to answer or did he need to pray on a regular basis? We know from this that the continued prayer aspect is not required by God, at least in this case, but was it required for Daniel to continue to keep his focus on God while waiting or was he focused on the problem? I prayed once and God would have responded. Not sure if it would have been in agreement or not, but according to this, He would have had an answer for me. I kept praying not because I was focused on God but I was focused on the threat. Now I kept turning to God at the prospect of the threat, but would I have asked the same thing over and over again if the threat was removed? This is one reason I am confused on prayer.
And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” [But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.]
The prayer and fasting portion here was added and not part of every manuscript. We know that prayer and fasting work and are useful in our spiritual life, but prayer keeps us in contact with God. This added portion isn’t saying that we must pray constantly for something to happen.
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Again, prayer is singular. It is a petition and not repetition of a petition.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
The word prayers only occurs 27 times in the ESV Bible. Examples like in 1 Timothy show it to be a plural, as in several prayers on many things, not a repetition of a singular prayer.
I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.
Here Paul is asking that the believers make a regular petition to God for the sake of Paul. Is that needed since I am not finding that instruction anywhere?
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Here is another one of Jesus making several prayers over the course of his ministry, but it doesn’t even imply they were all about the same thing. So are we as Christians praying wrong? Should we just ask once and wait or do we keep praying?