ESV - 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
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When I read Luke 18:1-8 The Parable of the Persistent Widow, it gives me hope for my consistent prayers to God. I know as someone who suffers from chronic pain from an undiagnosed or explainable disease, I will always pray for healing. I will also always pray for the salvation of my sister and many other family members. I believe praying in this way draws me closer to God and helps me to hear his plans and voice in my life. And through this, I am able to hopefully, discern that I am praying in his will. Also see Luke 11:5-12, Matthew 7:7-11
Does it show a lack of faith when you persistently ask the same thing in prayer? No... I think it shows the exact opposite. If my prayer hasn't been answered, for me to avoid talking to God about it would mean that I don't think talking to Him about it will do any good. It would be that I've given up on Him intervening, so there's no need to pray to Him about it. My father died of cancer in 2012. He was diagnosed in March and he passed away in November. Although I have always prayed for him, when his illness became known to me, my prayer for him became centralized to his sickness. Would my faith lead me to pray just once that his cancer would go into remission, and not bring it up again in prayer when I talked to God? I haven't brought it up again to God since that November day. If that is how prayer is designed to work I could pray just once for "the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6) and never bring it up again. The same can be said for my children. In one long prayer I could pray that their lives would go just as God planned when He gave them life, and then, by faith, just wait for the desired results, confident that my petition was as good as a thousand prayers would be. It wouldn't take long for prayer to be done away with if that idea ever gains any real traction. You'd pray for the success of your family, community, government, nation, all the systems that we need to make our lives flow smoothly, just once, and trust that one prayer would cover it all. Trouble would break out in your local school or scandal would shake city hall and you'd think 'well if I ask God to help us with this it'll signify that I had no faith in the prayer I prayed for this community, so I'll just hold off and wait for Him to act.' That's unrealistic. We were told to be persistent in prayer, but if you believe God answers prayer, you will be persistent without being told. No one has to tell us to eat everyday. We get hungry without being told. As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1,2). David is hungry for God. He wants to meet with God. He doesn't just have a few requests of God that he wants to drop God a note about, or leave God a message in His inbox. He wants to have a conference. In essence David says in this psalm, "We need to have a serious discussion." Psalm 42 is a good snapshot of what prayer is supposed to be. We have some devastating problems in this life. We need to bombard heaven for pleas of deliverance. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again ---- my Savior and my God! Ps 42:11 David says here "I'll call until He answers."
I think that attitude plays a part in this situation. Jesus made clear that God knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). However, I would say that even repeated prayer, or prayer offered by multiple people, does not displease or exasperate God, as long as it is offered in sincerity and humility, with a willingness to wait upon God's timing, and also with faith in God knowing the answer that is best for us. (For example, Acts 12:5 refers to many Christians praying for Peter's safety.) (However, I find it interesting that, despite the faith of those praying, they nevertheless initially found it unbelievable that God had actually responded (Acts 12:12-16).) It is offering persistent prayer solely in the belief that repetition has greater influence with God; or praying as a matter of ritual or rote without true reflection on the words being said; or coming to God in supplication while inwardly demanding that God respond in a specific way, that show a need for greater personal faith.
The answer depends on your relationship with God. Are you asking as his child in faith, or are you asking as someone who has no relationship with him but just wants something? Asking in faith means that you have a living relationship with the father and that you trust in him to do what he knows is good. Sometimes we ask for things that are contrary to either our own good (give me a million dollars!) or are contrary to the greater good. God knows the “beginning” and the “end” of all things. He can see consequences that we cannot. Think of a child asking her earthly dad for candy. She asks, and asks, and asks until he either gives her what she wants or until he says no way. The father knows his child and what she needs as opposed to what she wants. Do you see God as a good father you can celebrate with and rely upon, or just a wish granter to be called on when things are bad? Love God and love one another. God comes first though so that he can empower us through our love for him. Without that fundamental relationship your prayers will be empty and self centered.
This question caught my attention, and some of the answers reflect my wife's attitude when she asked, "So, those 18 years I prayed for you to be saved...should I have given up somewhere in there?" And it's a good point. But I know that in my life there have been times when I prayed fervently for some outcome only to look back and realize that the Lord had answered me, but my attitude didn't allow me to see that the answer to my prayer wasn't going to be entirely dictated by me, but by the Lord. Other times, my prayers have been well-motivated, but not necessarily wise. How many times do we hear prayers for someone to live, who is riddled with cancer, or just suffering terribly, and ready to go to God? So, yes, if the Spirit moves you, pray as long as it takes. Examine your prayer, and be prepared for God to answer in some way you might never expect. In my wife's case, the Lord was still setting me up, turning me over to my own desires, but after all that time, and all that prayer, when he lifted me, it was for good.
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