If you want to see me get fired up, ask me about repetitious prayers. I’ve noticed as I’ve done podcast interviews over the last year on prayer, the topic will come up and I get so excited to respond because I think we tend to feel very defeated about praying the same things over and over again, and I hope to show a different side to repetitious prayer and share a little hope for you if you feel stuck praying for the same things every day.
Let me start by saying, praying the same thing isn’t by default bad.
Maybe you have felt that it is. If you keep one of our prayer journals, do you get discouraged filling in some of the same requests each month? Does it feel like a failure to move onto a new month that looks remarkably like the last? Many of us have been there and I now see repetitious prayers as something beautiful.
1️. Repeated prayers are not a signal to stop praying for them, but an opportunity to pray harder for them.
Our gut reaction is to quit if something isn’t working, but prayer isn’t a man-made design so it will feel counter-culture. I think there are times when God tells us to stop praying for something but I think it’s rare and often pretty clear if that’s the case. Otherwise, keep praying as the Lord keeps it on your heart. If you are constantly thinking about it, you should keep praying for it and not think that ruminating over it is somehow better than praying too many times for something.
2. Repeated prayers develop our faith way more than the prayers we prayed once and immediately got an answer to.
Don’t get me wrong. Those are great too, but who wouldn’t keep praying if prayer was like a vending machine and we always got the response we wanted? To put it bluntly, a dog could do that. If I give a treat every time I ask a dog to do a trick, they will learn it’s worth it to keep doing the trick. But what if the “treat” doesn’t come every single time we act? It has to be based on something bigger than the gift. It’s got to be based on the giver. Faith is literally coming back day after day and believing that, even though you don’t see God’s hand at work, you know He’s there just like Hebrews 11:1 tells us. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” To have faith requires us to know God. We won’t keep coming back if we don’t know what God has promised us, so when we do keep coming back, it reveals what we know to be true of God.
Related blog post: The Gift is the Giver
3. Repeated prayers bring incredible glory to God.
This faithfulness that I mentioned in #2 brings incredible glory to God. Because we cannot be faithful in our own strength, it points others to Him. And when you have a prayer journal or even a few years of journals with the same request and you get an answer, we can’t begin to take credit. God gets the glory. There’s no way we can try to claim that it happened in our own strength because if it did, we would have knocked it out a lot sooner, right? But God’s perfect timing brings glory to God.
4. Repeated prayers give us opportunities to consistently surrender our struggles.
Here’s a portion from Pray Confidently and Consistently that I think sums it up: “Prayer is not simply talking to God about your problem. It’s an act of surrender. As Luke 9 calls us to take up our cross daily, doesn’t it make sense that we will need to lay things down more than once, too? I don’t think we have even an inkling of an idea of how powerful it is to keep coming back to God about the same things. What looks to us as a lack of faith on our part (because surely God would answer me the first time if He wanted to?) is strengthening the grooves of surrender and faith. Repetition doesn’t imply failure or dullness. That’s Satan’s spin on it and he, unfortunately, makes a pretty convincing case as he twists Scripture [Matthew 6:7] to fit his agenda.”
5. Repeated prayers are retraining our brain.
As we pray over and over for things, we’re not only learning to surrender them continuously, but in the process of repeated thoughts, we’re also retraining our thoughts. We have neural pathways that create grooves in our brain and that groove gets deeper the more we think a thought. What do you think happens when you pray the same thing over and over again? Choose the way you word those prayers intentionally. Meaning, don’t come defeated each time you pray for something over and over again. It’s teaching our brains that what we’re doing is already defeated. Pray with hope and let those repeated prayers retrain our brains to find more hope!
- Read more on prayer (or take a course 😜) to stay motivated. I obviously know a great book and course to start with, but it doesn’t have to be specific, just keep soaking in the truth that prayer is powerful. It will keep you motivated when it’s hard to keep praying.
- Go read your old prayers. Be reminded of God’s past faithfulness. If you knew the number of times I wrote to the Lord “what are you doing, God?” and “use me” the year before I created our first prayer journal, you’d be amazed. Over and over again, I was asking the Lord to lead me in the right direction. I prayed for provision as I sold my bread and butter wedding planning business and desperately needed wedding invitation clients to keep my business afloat. Don’t have a record of prayers? Start one today (here’s our favorite obviously) and ask a friend to share their story of God’s faithfulness. Ask to hear about a season they felt would never end.
I’ll close with one more quote from Pray Confidently and Consistently.
“We don’t write down the same requests month after month because we failed the first time. We do it as an act of worship. We tell God, I know You’re still God so I’m still giving this to You.”