What is it with the vague, apprehensive feeling that persistent prayer is wrong?
A lot of people have this. For me, it was something along these lines: “God has perfect hearing, memory, and knowledge of our needs. Repeating a prayer reveals that you’re not thinking about God’s qualities.” There’s also the thought, pushing back like an invisible barrier, saying that we’re fortunate to be tolerated by God anyway and that we really shouldn’t be pushing our luck. The result is that importunate prayer often goes untried. “Just pray once and let it go.”
I do not deny that some prayers can be offered out of anxiety, ignorance, or selfishness. Those prayers are worthless before God, and should be countered with other prayers for sanctification and wisdom.
But would you have told Elijah to stop praying for rain upon Israel after his first prayer was met with silence?
Would you have told Moses to stop interceding for the Israelites’ lives after his first day of pleading was met with silence?
What about Jesus praying to God three times in Gethsemane for the cup of the cross to be taken from him?
Oh, and hoo boy: What do we do with the story of the Canaanite woman?