God hears our prayers and answers every petition. His responses include: YES, NO, and IN MY TIME.
However, if we don’t get an immediate answer to our situation or things aren’t resolved in a manner we have in mind, we might think God wasn’t listening. This is a lie the devil would love Christian to believe! Thinking we serve an inattentive and unloving Creator would instill doubt in His character and causes us to question His goodness.
“So, I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9 (NKJV)
Prayer is our means of communication with God. Should we pray multiple times for the same thing or should we offer up a prayer once and then forget about it? To answer this question, we need to look at Christ’s example. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus offered up the same fervent prayer to His Father, multiple times. Gethsemane means “oil press” and Jesus knew a painful death was in His future unless God provided a different solution. Jesus was not looking forward to a painful death and asked God multiple times if there was another way to fulfill His purpose. Jesus wanted to do His Father’s will so when God didn’t provide a Plan B, He obediently faced the cross.
“So, He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.”
Matthew 26:24 (NKJV)
Why would God want us to pray about the same thing over and over? He knows our hearts and what we need. (Pause and read that sentence again. We have an answer!) God knows the motivation behind our prayers and distinguishes between our needs and desires. Maybe, just maybe, the first time we offer up a petition we’re making a demand instead of a request. The condition of our heart might be self-centered and not focused on God’s will. Maybe each petition cements our will to do the Father’s will, even if it requires suffering.
With each repeated prayer, God gives us an opportunity to edit and refine our petition. With additional requests we become more in tune with the Holy Spirit. As we lean more heavily on the Spirit to guide our prayers, we learn to align our desires to the will and purposes of God. Instead of lifting up half-hearted requests, we move toward more fervent intercessions. God appreciates fervency and perseverance. Waiting for God to answer prayers will build up our faith and teach us to discern His presence in situations.
“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (NIV)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Something happens in the heavenly realm when we pray. We are told we do not battle against flesh and blood alone. Daniel’s intercessory prayer (Daniel 9) for the people of Israel included a three-week fast (Daniel 10) which eventually resulted in a vision. An angel appeared before Daniel to assure him that his petition was heard on the very first day. However, a spiritual battle took place which caused a 21-day delay. As Daniel fasted and mourned over the sinful state of Israel, continual prayers must have been lifted up over those three weeks. In some way we don’t completely understand, our prayers make a difference in spiritual matters. Repeated prayers and intercessions for those caught up in sin will influence the outcome of the one we are interceding for and it will affect us too. Perseverance instills spiritual maturity and that, dear friends, is worth some introspection.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
“Then he continued, ‘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. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.’” Daniel 10:12-14 (NIV)
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4 (NIV)