There’s an interesting exchange over at Joyful Christian about the purpose of prayer. I think it’s important to highlight the subjective effect of prayer- it changes us, not God.
While I don’t fall into the “If we can just accumulate enough prayers, God will change his mind” camp, I do tend to petition God for the same thing repeatedly. In fact, I tend to continue to pray to God for something until the matter has been conclusively resolved one way or the other.
I’ve often wondered if this was the way it was supposed to work. After all, when Paul described praying to have the “thorn” (whatever it was) removed, he said he asked three times and in context it seems like he thought that quite a lot. Of course, Paul also records that God spoke to him directly on the subject so maybe he just stopped praying because God had given him a definitive answer in a more direct way than I’m used.
I chime in:
There’s a lot in the Bible about the subjective purpose of prayer- that is, we pray to change ourselves, to submit our will to God as much as to change any events.
Matt. 6:5-13- The heathen think they’ll be heard if they repeat themselves over and over, but God knows what we need already. So we pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, before we pray for anything else.
So, the question of how often we ought to pray for things is perhaps not the most important question. The more important question is, what are we trying to accomplish? If we understand the main change needs to happen with us, we’ll pray as much as we need to, and since we’ll never be perfect, we’ll never stop praying.