Question of the week:
Is it wrong to keep praying for the same thing over and over again? Is it demonstrating a lack of faith that our Heavenly Father is not hearing our prayers or is it showing that we believe that our prayers will be answered because we are demonstrating our faith?
I believe He is very busy but cannot become overwhelmed as He can do anything we can imagine and more.
~ Jim L.
Praying is never demonstrating a lack of faith. This is true even if events have tragically reduced one to praying in a mood of resentment and even anger. Speaking to Him is always better than ignoring Him.
The English word ‘pray’ originates with an old Latin word for ‘beseech’ or ‘implore’, in other words, asking for something. However, ancient Jewish wisdom’s insights on prayer reveal it to have much more to do with communicating than with requesting.
In fact, praying effectively involves five steps: (1) Candid self-judgment; (2) Commitment to change (3) Contemplation of God’s love for us (4) Expression of praise and gratitude (5) Requests.
Because prayer is a personal and intimate experience between an individual and God, no communication is “wrong.” However, the question of whether at a certain point we should stop praying for the same thing over and over is a good and often-asked question.
In our book, Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language, you will find a chapter on the Hebrew word for prayer. One of the points we note is that the verb “to pray” is reflexive in Hebrew (in other words, an action that we do to ourselves), that also has an element of self-judgment in it.
The idea is that so many people have difficulty learning how to pray. Well, it turns out that a good way to start is by seriously contemplating the difference between what we think of ourselves and what God is probably thinking about us. In other words, judging ourselves through His lens of what we are capable of achieving.
When our prayers aren’t answered quickly in the manner that we hoped for, it gives us a chance to reflect. God is all-powerful, but it is possible that what we think is best for us may not actually be the best. Think of someone wanting a specific job, spouse or possession. God may well be answering us, but with a clear, unambiguous ‘No’. This grants us the opportunity to re-think whether we are asking for the right thing.
On the other hand, we have the example of many of our Biblical matriarchs who ceaselessly prayed for a child. How fortunate they and we are that they didn’t give up! The delay granted them time both to get closer to God as they reached out to Him and also to reflect on their desires for their children’s lives, not just for those children to be born.
Praying for someone’s recovery from ill-health is another example of prayer that may seem repetitive but should be maintained until prayers have been answered in one way or the other. If the answer to our requests for a restoration of health is “no,” that prayer still served a purpose. We simply may not have the whole picture to understand where it will come into fulfillment.
Continuing to pray while also re-examining our goals and motives is worthwhile. Quite apart from anything else, praying is a habit that paradoxically strengthens us. Secular people have sometimes tried to disparage prayer as the refuge of the weak. However, they are wrong because it takes great inner strength to pray to God and doing so strengthens the inner will in powerful and mysterious ways.
Repeatedly asking a human father for the same thing is sometimes seen as nagging, but not to our Father in Heaven. No matter what, we can be sure that He always desires our connection to Him.
May all our prayers be answered for good,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
Would you like a free taste of the course that is attracting so much attention?
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Even if you don’t know the Lord’s Language, Hebrew, you still can access the original language of the Bible, delving way deeper than any translation. Rabbi Daniel Lapin walks you verse by verse through the Torah, the Bible, decoding the original Hebrew text via the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom.
Unit One focuses on the six days of Creation and foundational principles from the beginning of Genesis. This First Lesson discusses Genesis 1:1, how God communicated with man through the Hebrew language, and how studying the Bible in Hebrew opens up a world of deeper meaning.