A week or so ago I found myself, over a few days, having to pray to God repeatedly for something that was quite important for me, health-wise, which would clearly have been nothing of particular note for our Lord to give me in response. On something like the third day of prayer on this particular topic my wishes were answered. So, I wondered, is this repetition in prayer a requirement? I have to say that the answer I got from the scriptures caused me to smile so I thought I would share my amusement, in this short paper, with the interested reader.
I found two scriptures of relevance to the question of prayer repetition. Firstly in the gospel of Matthew for the introduction to the Lords’ prayer:
5 And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the open streets so that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.
6 But you, when you pray, enter into your room and shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret. And your Father seeing in secret will repay you in the open.
7 But when you pray, do not be babbling vain words, as the nations; for they think that they shall be heard in their much speaking.
8 Then do not be like them, for your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him.
9 So, then, you [should] pray this way: Our Father who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as [it is] in Heaven, also on the earth.
11 Give us today our daily bread, (Matthew 6 GLT)
Firstly, if it were not obvious to the reader who is familiar with the work of the Lords’ Witnesses, our method of praying together is usually when we are gathered into small groups when we are celebrating a festival or asking for our Lords’ blessing at one of our bible research sessions. Our prayers are specific, of few words and from the heart and are not ritualistic or repeated on a daily basis just for the sake of following a format. I think I speak for my brothers as well as for myself in that I follow the same approach for my individual prayers: quiet, succinct and in the privacy of my own room. We do not have a daily prayer book. So on that basis I think we follow the requirements as laid out in the first four verses above. This particularly since God already knows what we need (this latter point I shall be returning to again in a moment). For the purposes of this paper I then copied the first three verses of the Lords’ prayer itself, the key verse here being the third where it is effectively proposed that we repeat this prayer on a daily basis for our daily needs. So here is a clear indication that repetition is required each day for our daily needs.
So far so good. But what of our one-off needs as they occur from time to time such as my recent health issue? Here the second scriptural reference, this time from the gospel of Luke, comes into play and is the one that gave me much amusement when I read it:
1 And He also spoke a parable to them to [teach] it is always right to pray, and not to faint,
2 saying, A certain judge was in a certain city, not fearing God and not respecting man.
3 And a widow was in that city, and she came to him, saying, Avenge me from my adversary.
4 And for a time he would not. But after these things he said to himself, Even if I do not fear God, and do not respect man,
5 yet because this widow causes me trouble, I will avenge her, that not coming to [the] end, she wear me down.
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge says;
7 and will God not at all execute the avengement of His elect, those crying to Him day and night, also having been long-suffering over them?
8 I say to you that He will carry out the avengement of them speedily. But the Son of Man coming then, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18 GLT)
I had to laugh at the prospect of God only answering my specific one-off prayer on the third time of hearing because He was getting worn down by my continued asking for the same thing each day. This particularly since, as mentioned previously, God already knows what we need. Certainly there is the suggestion that long-suffering goes with the territory so I suppose that three days for a relatively trivial request, in the overall scheme of things, was pretty good going for me really.
Anyway, however you wish to read this topic area there is no doubt that our prayers will be answered. However I think we all need to be aware of what may or may not be provided to us in this system compared with what we may expect in the Kingdom where all our needs will be met. Amen.
Jewish Lords' Witness
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The parable of the Judge and the Widow by Harold Copping