In a post about prayer today, Mark Butterworth said this:
Which is just as well. There is a notion in all the major religions that some sort of prayer tank needs to be filled before some concern will be met by God. No one knows how many prayers it will take, but spinning enough wheels or saying rosaries will eventually do the trick.
When asked to pray for someone or on my own initiative for others (like our soldiers and their families), I say one prayer and that's it. I usually say it immediately. I don't care whether it comes across as especially sincere or not. I mean to express my concern, and leave the rest up to God.
I believe in the efficacy of petitionary prayer, but I don't make my faith depend on it.
I certainly agree with Mark that that faith shouldn't depend on the answer to a particular prayer, but that's not what I want to talk about at the moment. Instead I'm concerned with the comparison he draws about the frequency of prayer.
While I don't fall into the "If we can just accumulate enough prayers, God will change his mind" camp, I do tend to petition God for the same thing repeatedly. In fact, I tend to continue to pray to God for something until the matter has been conclusively resolved one way or the other.
I've often wondered if this was the way it was supposed to work. After all, when Paul described praying to have the "thorn" (whatever it was) removed, he said he asked three times and in context it seems like he thought that quite a lot. Of course, Paul also records that God spoke to him directly on the subject so maybe he just stopped praying because God had given him a definitive answer in a more direct way than I'm used.
That's the only passage I can think of that's on point in regard to this subject, and I'm really not sure what it tells us. Does anyone have any other thoughts?