Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Recently, someone sent me an email with a question about repetitive prayer. The question got me thinking about prayer and how God answers our requests. Here are a few questions it raised with me.
Should we continue to pray for someone or something?
After all, God knows everything, we’re not informing Him of something He doesn’t already know. So, should we continue praying the same request over and over?
Does this show a lack of faith?
In Luke 11:2-4, we see the Lord’s prayer. Right after that, Jesus tells a story about someone who comes to a friend’s house late at night asking for a favor. The neighbor is bothered but because the friend was persistent, he got up and gave him the bread. He did it to shut his friend up.
Are we to take from this that God is bothered by our requests and we need to just keep bothering Him until He gives in? Look at the words of Jesus below.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” — Luke 11:9–10
The point of this story is not that God is bothered, but that God is so much a better a friend than the bothered neighbor and he delights in giving us our requests.
Our persistence does not force His hand, because we don't need to force His hand, He already loves us and delights in giving us everything we need.
We are told to ask, seek and knock. God is not troubled by this repetitive request. He finds joy in giving us what we need.
The other question we may be asking is, "Why hasn't God answered my prayer?"
There can be at least four different answers to our prayers.
1. Your request is not the best answer to your prayer. You may be asking for something that in the long run, or in your situation is not the best from God’s perspective.
2. Your request is offered at the wrong time. God is delaying His answer because He has a different timing to your request.
3. God is saying, “No!” Sometimes, God just says no. Just like any good parent who says no to their children some times, God being the best of parents, sometimes says, “no.”
4. God is trying to teach you something. Maybe He wants you to be persistent, He wants us to come after Him. There are times as a parent, where you don’t give your child what they ask for because you’re not sure how much they really want it.
Or we might be praying for a friend or family member to trust Christ as Savior. We ask God to send someone, and possibly, God is wanting us to go. We ask, over and over, and it finally dawns on us, I can do this, I can share the Gospel with them.
There are probably many other reasons why God seems silent at times. We keep bringing the same requests, over and over. Asking God for something, over and over, is perfectly OK.
Remember Paul prayed three times to have his thorn in the flesh lifted. Finally, God said, "No Paul, you're keeping the thorn because when you are weak, then you are strong." [ 2 Corinthians 12:9-11]
If Paul had continued to pray for healing after God told him that, then, I believe he would have been praying in error.
So go ahead and ask. God is not bothered, He loves to help His kids, and you’ll never catch Him at a bad time or asleep.