Does God Mind Our Oft-repeated Prayers?
I learned to pray as a child probably from listening to my parents or pastors pray. I don’t recall anyone teaching me any specific prayers – as in our family did not quote memorized prayers even at bedtime. Though I knew “Now I lay me down to sleep…” I never prayed that way.Prayer became personal to me through journaling. I think in my teens I might have journaled for the sake of keeping a record of my thoughts, but that didn’t last long. My “thoughts” turned quickly to prayers and I have stacks of notebooks or actual designer journals in various places in the house.
I guess prayer always seemed like talking to a friend for me. I would talk to God as I walked to school, but prayer became most real when I could get it out on paper. When the Bible tells us to “cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for you”, I could only let those feelings go once I knew they were not only prayed in silence or even out loud but written.
Over the years, however, I’ve looked back at some of those prayers and discovered that I have a tendency to repeat myself. Can you relate? Do you ever ask God for the same thing over and over again?
I did so for years with my writing and now I look back and wonder if God ever grew tired of those oft-repeated prayers? Now I’m doing it again for different reasons and sometimes a repeated request begins to feel like it's endless. Is God even listening?
Or does He have my desires memorized? Of course, being God, and knowing all things, He already knows the words before they are on my tongue, so He could easily recite the prayer to me before I even speak.
But for some reason, the Bible tells me that God wants to hear me say the words. It’s not that He longs for or even listens to rote prayers that are repeated without coming from the person’s heart. Jesus warned us against thinking we would be heard for our many prayers.
And yet on the other hand, He told us to “pray and not give up.” Following that statement, He told a story of a woman who kept asking for the same thing over and over again. The difference, I think, was that the woman’s petition came from her place of deep need and an honest seeking heart. She wasn’t just repeating herself to be heard or to show others that she knew how to pray.
I realize that this also needs to be true of me. My deepest heartfelt longings are so similar in content that they could be copied and pasted from one year to the next. There is one exception, however. My prayers do make subtle changes along the way. The kind that reminds me that God is slowly maturing me, and the prayers that were once desperate are now a little more willing to surrender to His ways. A little more grateful and satisfied with where He has placed me now, realizing that His ways are not mine and His timing is His.
Does God mind our oft-repeated prayers? I think it honestly depends on the state of our heart.
How about you? When you pray, do you do so by rote or because you should? Or has prayer become like a continuous conversation with someone you trust beyond anyone else? Can you give God your secret dreams, ambitions, your pain, your hurt places?
When we can do that, even if we have to keep reminding Him of those dreams or that pain, we are closer to the place of prayer that makes a difference both in us and in the way He chooses to answer.
#livegrace #nevergiveup #prayalways
© 2017 Jill Eileen Smith