It has been said by some that if you pray for something more than once, it shows your lack of faith. This has been promoted and embraced by many in the hyper-faith movement. This concept is completely unscriptural, and robs sincere believers of a tremendous effectiveness in life and ministry that God has otherwise provided to ultimately bring glory to Himself.
If you have believed the above mentioned error, this article will help you to launch the rebuilding of your faith and your practice of persistent prayer.
Repetitive Prayer vs. Persistent Prayer
A common go-to scripture in their presentation to promote their erroneous belief that praying more than once for a situation is outside of genuine faith:
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
( Matthew 6:7-8 )
They assign an interpretation to the “many words” phrase as meaning persistent prayer, of praying for something more than once. In reality, this reference is in regard to repetitive prayer, a practice of many pagan religions (which the passage mentions specifically). There is a distinct difference between Christ-taught persistent prayer and pagan-practiced repetitive prayer.
Many pagan religions (back then, and even today) believe that their god(s) will hear them if they ritualistically repeat a word or a phrase 100, or 1,000, or even 10,000 times. There is no heart-based, faith-motivated, intimate request involved that trusts their god(s) will hear and answer them.
All True Christian Doctrine Functions Together in Unison.
All of the true doctrines (teachings) of the scriptures function in sync with each other, they do not negate other doctrines. The hyper-faith movement has embellished the role and function of faith within the Christian life, creating a concept that inflates faith to such an overwhelming size that it overrides and takes priority over other doctrines (like that of persistent prayer).
Faith is not a genie-in-a-bottle, it isn’t a mystical tool for bending the laws of God and the laws of nature for self-serving purposes. While faith is a powerful tool that God has given to us, He intended that we would use our faith to work with Him for His glory, not to be utilized like a mystical secret that a warlock or witch uses to manipulate people, spirits, and riches.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’”
( Matthew 7:21-23 )
Godly People Who Persistently Prayed.
As for praying for something more than once, is that a sign of a lack of faith? Should we strive to pray once—and only once—about a single situation? Let’s look to the scriptures for clarity.
Jesus Persistently Prayed for The Father’s Will to be Done.
Jesus Himself prayed the same prayer more than once (and I doubt anyone is going to imply that He did so out of a lack of faith!). In the garden of Gethsemane, just prior to His arrest, torture, and crucifixion He prayed with persistence.
“Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’…
He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.’…
So He left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.”
( Matthew 26:39-44 )
Widows Who Persistently Pray.
- Prayer for Justice: Jesus clearly taught the important doctrine of persistent prayer through His parable of the widow who persists in approaching a judge, seeking justice in her case.
“And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
( Luke 18:7-8a )
- Prayer for Provision: The Apostle Paul also spoke highly of widows who persistently pray for provision, expressing their hope (i.e. faith) in God for provision in response to their many prayers.
“The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.”
( 1 Timothy 5:5 )
Daniel Persistently Prayed for Understanding of a Vision.
Daniel, one of the outstanding prophets of the Old Testament, was a man who believed in the veracity of persistent prayer. His persistence in 21 days of prayer and fasting (to receive understanding from God for a vision he had received) is confirmed as being effective by an angel, that there was spiritual warfare in the heavenly dimension that was won as a result.
Though God dispatched the angel on Daniel’s first day of prayer, there was a 3-week angelic battle that ensued, being strategically and powerfully supported through Daniel’s persistent prayer (though he did not know or understand it until later).
“At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
[An angel appeared to him, saying], ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.’”
( Daniel 10:2-3, 12-13 )
Elijah Persistently Prayed for National Deliverance.
The prophet Elijah is another outstanding example in our study of persistent prayer, God used his prayers to bring about great change in his nation (1 Kings 18).
- Deliverance from Wicked Leaders: King Ahab and his now infamous wife Jezebel were cruel, ungodly, greedy, and fiercely powerful leaders in Israel. They were fully immersed in promoting and practicing pagan idolatry (i.e. The prophets of Baal), in stealing and coercing, and in murdering the priests, prophets, people of God, and anyone else who stood in their way (1 Kings 16-22).
- Deliverance from Drought: There had also been a longstanding drought nationwide, creating food shortages and economic chaos, circumstances tied to the wicked and cruel king and queen (1 Kings 17-18).
Today, we are encouraged in the Book of James to consider our prayers to be just as useable by God in His continuing ministry in our own modern era. His persistent prayer was used by God to end the drought (1 Kings 18:42-46) and to end the reign of the wicked and greedy royalty.
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
( James 5:16b-18 )
Paul Persistently Prayed for Deliverance.
The Apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” for which he earnestly prayed 3 times for deliverance. Though it is not absolutely clear what constituted the nature of his thorn in the flesh (sickness, persecution, finance, legal, or suffering in general), he persisted in prayer for deliverance until the Lord gave him an answer.
Though it was not the answer he wanted, he nonetheless was heard and responded to by God because he prayed more than once [which the hyper-faith movement suggests should be the limit, if praying in complete faith.]
“…I was given a thorn in my flesh… Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’…”
( 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 )
When to Discontinue a Specific Persistent Prayer.
So how long should we persist in prayer on a given subject? There do come times when the Spirit will direct us to cease praying on a particular subject, but these cease-to-persist times are not because we have reached a fullness of faith.
All prayer is in partnership and unity with God, prayers that are fueled and inspired by the Holy Spirit. We may not know what to pray, but the Spirit helps us. We may not know when to consider our persistent prayer complete, but the Holy Spirit helps us (Romans 8:26-28).
Paul, in partnership with the Spirit’s leading, ended his persistent prayer for deliverance from his thorn in the flesh. His prayer focus was not on “if I can just generate enough faith, I can be done with this thorn, and done with this praying!” No, his focus (as our focus should be) was to pray until he heard from God on what His will was, and what His response would be.
Faith is not a mystical tool for us to bend the will of God into our will, and neither is it for manipulating spirit- and natural-realm beings. Faith is for our participation with God in His realm, to bring about the fulfillment of the will of God in our lives and in the spiritual and natural realms of Heaven and earth (see The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-15).
God Utilizes Persistent Prayer for Multi-Dimensional Victories.
Persistent prayer, though we do not understand all of its spiritual and natural realm implications, is a vital component in our partnership with God so that His “Kingdom will come and [His] will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:10).
Praying with faith, believing in God for His intervention, certainly is vital and real. However, to cease to pray beyond the first prayer as a proof of faith (to self, to others, to God) is completely inconsistent with the big picture of scripture, in both Old and New Testaments.
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