We can and should pray for the same thing more than once. For according to the Bible, there are many things we pray for that will only be granted if we persist in prayer. Often it is the quality of persistence in our prayer that removes the barrier that was stopping it from being answered.
Nonetheless, there is a teaching in the church that if you pray for a thing more than once, you are in unbelief. The rationale is that if you pray in faith the first time, there is no need to pray again.
This may sound good and right, but it is absolutely bad and wrong.
Jesus Prayed For the Same Things More Than Once
Jesus Christ is our great example. If our favorite teacher teaches a doctrine that contradicts the example of Jesus, well, uhh, I think you know what to do with that teaching. Put it in the toilet and flush.
An example that perfectly illustrates the legitimacy of persistent prayer is given to us in Matthew 26:36-44 and Mark 14:32-42.
These are the accounts of how Jesus prayed just prior to being apprehended in Gethsemane by His enemies. We’ll use Matthew’s narrative:
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Look at the last four words: Saying—the—same—words.
Let it roll around in your soul and sink deeply into your spirit: Saying—the—same—words. How can this be? Was it not Jesus who told us we are not to use vain repetitions when we pray?
Yes, it was. But let’s look at His words in context to get the correct meaning:
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.Matthew 6:7-8
Notice that Jesus’s instructions were not to pray as the heathen pray. How did they pray? He discloses two things they did wrong in prayer.
The First Mistake Was Using Vain Repetitions In Prayer
A vain repetition is a prayer that does not come from the heart. It is a prayer based upon a formula, creed, or tradition.
An example would be if a person flipped through a catalogue of prayers and chose one to offer to a deity. Sickness? No problem. Prayer number 32 should take care of that. Need a job? Hmm, let me see. Aha, prayer 19.
This is an extreme example, but the principle is right on target. God requires genuine communication. Template prayers mean nothing to God.
If you want to see excellent examples of genuine, heart-felt prayers, read the Psalms. There you will see prayers full of genuine emotion. Pattern your prayers after them. Don’t pray them word-for-word. But do copy the sincerity, honesty, and range of emotion.
Their Second Mistake Was Trusting In Vain Repetition of Prayers To Get An Answer
They attached a mystical power to the number of times the prayer was offered. This is in the neighborhood of witchcraft. The power is not in the number of times a prayer is offered, or in the method in which a prayer is offered. The power is in the God who answers the prayer.
Jesus warned us not to place our faith in the process of prayer. Instead He revealed that our faith should be in the Person to whom we pray, and in particular God’s relationship to us as Father.
This is communicated when He said,
Be ye not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.Matthew 6:8
The differences between the persistent prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane, and the vain repetitions of the heathens’ prayers, are many.
Differences in Persistent Prayer and Vain Repetitions
- Jesus did pray more than once for the same thing, saying the same words. However, unlike the heathen who offered secondhand prayers to their deity, Jesus offered prayers that came from His own heart.
- Second, Jesus prayed for the same thing, using the same words, not because He felt He was not being heard, but—and don’t miss this—because He knew He was being heard.
The truth of the matter is that many people who pray for a thing once and don’t pray for it again, do so because they don’t believe their prayers are actually being heard. They stop praying for their item of interest because either their faith in God or their desire for the item is weak.
Since Jesus knew that God was actually listening to His prayers, this encouraged Him to keep praying.
- Third, desire—this is a missing ingredient in much of our praying. Go back and read Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Study every case of the individuals who approached Jesus for healing. You will see a common thread of desire in those who were healed.
This desire is not the kind that weakly asks to be healed. It is the kind that desperately desires to be healed. Strong desire gives birth to faith. It is a natural process. Their desire for healing would not let them take no for an answer. God called this faith.
Jesus prayed more than once for the same thing because He had an incredibly strong desire to receive that for which He was praying.
- Fourth, Jesus prayed several times for the same thing because what He was praying for did not arrive the first time He prayed.
This is where so many people fail in their praying. They listen to the testimonies of some who swear they prayed once and received all their hearts’ desire. Unfortunately, these testimonies are then accepted as the only way to pray. So people stop praying too soon and never receive the answer.
We Can Persistently Pray For Something We Have Already Received By Faith
The problem is that we have often failed to understand a single truth. This truth is that it is not unbelief to persistently pray for something that we have already received by faith. Why is this?
It is because the very meaning of receiving by faith means we have not yet received it as a physical reality.
This is clearly seen in the very scripture that many people use to justify acting as though a future blessing is a literal, present possession:
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.Mark 11:24
Notice that this scripture clearly omits any particular number of times to pray for a thing. To limit it to one prayer is obviously adding to the scripture.
There Is a Difference in “Believing You Will Receive” and “Believing You Have Received”
Also, notice that Mark 11:24 above clearly makes a difference in “believing you receive them” and “you shall have them.” Obviously, if you shall have them (in the future), you don’t have them (in the present).
A thing can’t be future tense and present tense at the same time. Tomorrow is not today. To treat tomorrow as today is foolish. If taken to an extreme, it is delusion.
If a person believes what the Bible says about God and His great desire to heal the sick, and if that person is convinced that God will answer his prayer for healing, and offers that prayer, he is on good, safe ground.
Yet if that person does this, then literally behaves as though the answer has been received, that person may hurt himself.
For instance, a person with diabetes may pray for healing and receive it by faith. This means the person believes God has answered his prayer. This is good if the person has a proper understanding of what it means to receive healing by faith.
This person understands the difference in a spiritual fact and a natural fact. He understands that if the healing doesn’t immediately or shortly manifest, he must act in wisdom and not presumption.
Wisdom would continue to take medication until the literal arrival of the healing. Wisdom would understand that since the healing has not physically arrived yet, it can’t be physically enjoyed yet.
Presumption would throw away the medication before the literal arrival of the healing. Presumption would seek to enjoy the healing before there is an actual manifestation of the healing.
Jesus Didn’t Try to Enjoy Blessings That Had Not Yet Arrived
Jesus did not make this mistake in Gethsemane.
He could have prayed one time for strength to go to the cross. When the strength did not come, He could have tried to ignore the natural truth that He had not yet been sufficiently strengthened. He would then have faced His most challenging and crucial test…and failed. Why?
It is because a blessing on the way is not the same as a blessing that has arrived. Similarly, a healing that is on the way is not the same as a healing that has arrived.
Therefore, Jesus continued to pray until He felt in His mind and heart a literal infusion of mental and spiritual strength to finish the job of purchasing salvation through His death on the cross.
Aren’t you glad Jesus kept praying!
Jesus Prays for the Blind Man Twice
There is a Scripture in Mark that totally destroys the unscriptural belief that it is wrong to pray for something more than once. It reads:
And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.Mark 8:22-25
Unless one is totally without integrity, there is nothing one can do except admit that Jesus laid hands on this man more than once for the same problem.
It’s hard for some of us to accept that the blindness didn’t leave the man the first time Jesus laid hands on him. But that’s exactly what happened. And guess what? This type of resistance to the will of God has not gone away.
If Jesus Christ, the Almighty God and Creator of all that is, could meet such stiff resistance (in His earthly ministry), what makes us think we will not meet the same resistance?
The Lord’s First Prayer Produced Only A Partial Healing
Apparently Jesus’s first attempt at healing the man did bring some relief. He went from total blindness to at least seeing men as trees walking. That’s a partial healing. A partial healing is better than no healing. But it’s still not a total healing.
Jesus could have blamed the man for this failure and left him in this condition. Instead Jesus again laid hands on the man and he was totally healed.
Unfortunately, had this been a present-day healing meeting, the odds are that the man would have been scolded for having a lack of faith or for hiding some secret sin.
However, I believe that although lack of faith and secret sins are legitimate obstacles to healing, they are not our greatest obstacles to healing. Sometimes the greatest obstacles in healing and deliverance meetings are the ministers conducting the meetings.
Recall the story of the demonized boy in Mark 9:14-29.
The father of the boy brought him to the apostles for healing. They tried to heal the boy, but could not. Jesus came on the scene and scolded the apostles (not the father or the boy) for their lack of faith, prayer, and fasting.
I believe He is still rebuking us ministers for our lack of faith, prayer, and fasting. Nonetheless, in the meanwhile desperate people are needlessly suffering from our lack of spirituality.
The blind man Jesus ministered to wasn’t scolded and sent home. He was prayed for again and healed. This healing wasn’t the result of some great amount of faith on the man’s part. Actually, it appears that the blind man didn’t have great faith. I say this for a couple of reasons.
Persistent Prayer Helps A Man Without Great Faith
First, unlike other blind people who aggressively cried out to Jesus for healing, there is no record of this man even asking to be healed. He was brought to Jesus by others.
In my own ministry, I have found it is usually difficult to help people who don’t show initiative or desperation. It has often been little more than a long and frustrating waste of time. So I find this healing quite interesting.
Second, Jesus took the blind man out of town, then spit on the man’s eyes and laid his hands on him. Next, He asked the man if he saw anything.
What we see here is Jesus going out of His way to help this man’s faith. Obviously Jesus genuinely cared for this man. Similarly, we must have the kind of love that compels us to go out of our way to bring healing and deliverance to people.
That’s part of the prayer of persistence.
This kind of love sees nothing wrong with praying for people more than once for the same thing. Certainly if Jesus Christ prays for the same thing more than once, we should do the same.
For if we do not, many of our prayers will never be answered—no matter how critical or desperate our need may be.
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray for the Same Thing More Than Once
My final example of the overwhelming power of persistent prayer is in Luke 18. This story is like the one in Luke 11:5-10. You should read both of them often to gain strength while you await the literal arrival of your answer.
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?Luke 18:1-8
The message of this parable is unmistakable: We must persist in our prayers until the answer comes. Jesus begins by saying that His reason for teaching this parable is that we will learn “always to pray, and not to faint.”
In the story, a widow in a society that is contemptuous of women has a desperate need. She has suffered an injustice and goes to the law for a remedy. But the judge is a wicked man who cares for neither God nor man. He refuses to hear her case.
Yet, the woman does not easily give up hope. She persistently presses the judge for a remedy. He ignores her for a period of time. But finally the woman’s persistence wears down the unjust judge and he does what is right.
Jesus uses the story to graphically teach us to hold on in prayer until the answer comes. He even encourages us to ready our minds for a long battle.
During the waiting period, it will seem as though God has forsaken you. But this is a lie! For example, if you were seeking healing, a delay could be for any number of reasons:
- It may be God testing your faith.
- It may be God working patience in you.
- It may be God orchestrating the most strategic time and place for your healing.
- It may be God trying to get your attention.
- It may be God forcing you to learn how to reach Him on your own.
- It may be Satan resisting your prayers.
- It may be a demon and not simply a sickness.
- It may be a sickness and not simply a demon.
- It may be a combination of a sickness and a demon.
- It may be sin in your life.
- It may be that you haven’t been prayed for by the right person.
- It may be that you need to make restitution to someone before healing will come.
- It may be—and the list could go on.
But despite the reason for the delay, persistence in prayer can win the victory. For God’s promise in the parable is: “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?”
It may have already been a long, hard battle. But don’t give up on your miracle. You must believe that the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is your Jesus.
A Real-World Example of Praying for Healing More Than Once
The Lord has been so extremely gracious to allow such a weakling like me (sorry, my faith-confession buddies) to partake in His healing and deliverance ministry.
Whenever I am privileged to witness God’s mighty power set someone free of a life-long bondage or sickness, I am utterly amazed.
What grace and mercy that God should use my feeble efforts as a tool to demonstrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to show supernatural compassion to His people!
I see a common thread as I look back over the many times I or a team member has successfully ministered God’s mighty power in healing and deliverance. There is a consistent pattern of persistent prayer.
Although we have had some truly instantaneous miracles occur, it seems that the great majority of our miracles have come as a direct result of persistence.
One such miracle was the healing of a badly crippled woman. It was the first big miracle I’d ever seen.
Decades ago some friends and I went to a gospel meeting where there was a large number of sick people present. They were afflicted with all kinds of terrible diseases and conditions. I was very disappointed that aggressive prayers of faith weren’t offered for the sick.
As we were leaving the stadium, I noticed a terribly crippled old woman walking with two other people. My heart went out to her. I said to my friend, Missionary Powers, “God doesn’t want her like that.” Missionary Powers agreed and we continued to walk by.
We got in the car and lowered our head to pray before driving off. As someone led us in prayer, I couldn’t get my mind off of the old crippled woman. I felt that a golden opportunity to see God’s mighty power displayed was slipping by me. My heart pounded against my chest.
While the others prayed, I got out of the car and approached the car that the old lady had entered. I had my bottle of olive oil in my hand. I gently tapped on the car window.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
The three people in the car looked at me.
“Can I pray for you? God wants to heal you. Can I pray for you?”
There was an old blind man in the back seat and two old women in the front. The lady that wasn’t crippled answered. “Would you pray for her? Would you pray for her?” There was excitement in her voice.
“Yes…yes,” I answered.
Both women quickly got out of the car. Since we were in the stadium parking lot and the meeting had just ended, hundreds of people were going to their cars.
The crippled woman stood before me awaiting prayer. I was excited at the possibility of witnessing a genuine miracle—and through my hands! I was also terrified at the equally possible scenario of making an absolute fool of myself in front of all these people!
I dabbed the old crippled woman with a little oil on the forehead. “In the name of Jesus, be healed! Now walk in Jesus’s name!”
I sounded really authoritative, and I imagine I must’ve looked like a real professional miracle-worker. Without hesitation, the old woman obeyed me to the letter. She took several steps.
Clearly, she wasn’t healed. My heart sank.
I anointed her again with the oil, and laid hands once more and told her to walk. God knows I am not lying. When that lady obeyed my commands and walked, she looked worse after prayer than before prayer!
Oh no! What’s going on? I thought. Oh, God! How did I get myself into this mess? Oh, Jesus….
“Walk in the name of Jesus!” I said.
Again she hobbled up and down the parking lot. Each time she looked worse. Outwardly I was trying to appear unmoved. These people didn’t know that I wasn’t a professional miracle-worker. And I sure wasn’t going to let them know I was on the verge of running into the street and throwing myself in front of a bus!
But after a few more times of greasing down that poor old woman’s forehead and watching her hobble across the parking lot, apparently getting worse and worse, I was hoping that I would wake up from this nightmare of humiliation.
Mercifully, my mentor, Missionary Powers, and my other friends came to help me pray. We all laid hands on her.
I specifically recall that Missionary Powers laid her hands on the lady’s hips and told her to bend down in Jesus’s name. We had our hands on the woman’s shoulders.
The woman very slowly bent down. She very slowly raised herself up. Again she slowly bent down. Her eyes were wide as she slowly raised up again.
Finally, she threw a Holy Ghost fit!
That old woman jumped up and down several times and took off running. The last I saw of her, she was jumping up and down and screaming, “Glory to God! Glory to God! You healed me! Glory to God!”
It looked just like it must have looked in Acts chapter three when the lame man was healed. It was absolutely incredible.
One thing that has never left me is that the lady wasn’t healed on the first, second, or third prayer of faith. She wasn’t even healed on the fourth or fifth prayer of faith. It may have been on prayer seven or eight that she was healed.
Had we stopped one prayer too soon that lady would not have been healed.
God granted this great miracle when I was only 18 years old. I am forever grateful to God that He exposed me to the power of the name of Jesus and supernatural ministry before professional Christian unbelievers (cessationists) could ruin my faith in the Bible and the risen Christ.
Jesus is still saying, “According to your faith be it unto you.”
Other Articles On Prayer
- Overlooked Reasons Why God Didn’t Answer Your Prayer
- Can the Devil Hear and Stop My Prayers?
- How to Pray When I Don’t Know God’s Will?
Books by Eric
Eric has written a bunch of books. Check them out here.
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