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Is it wrong to continue asking God for something over and over again? Is it a sign that the answer is “no” if you haven’t yet received it?

There are many reasons why we might continue to ask God for the same things. First, we have ongoing needs. Every day we wake in the world as vulnerable creatures who need many things simply to make it through the day. So we pray as our Lord taught us: “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

Indeed, in the Lord’s Prayer we find a pattern of requests to be made again and again. A second category of repeated petitions comes in the line “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). This cuts two ways. It reminds us that we are not in control of all outcomes and that we cannot bring about the kingdom by our own strength. But it also means that we will have a role to play in testifying to the coming kingdom in action and prayer. For example, we continue to pray for peace in areas of the world afflicted by war. The fact that peace does not arrive as we pray does not mean that our prayers have no effect, nor does it mean that we should stop praying. Jesus promises that the kingdom will come in accordance with what we are praying: “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7).

Third, there are requests we make repeatedly because they weigh heavily on our hearts. Perhaps we have a child who is struggling or a loved one who is ill. When we bring these requests before the Lord, we bring him our hearts. We cast our cares on him because we believe he cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). As we do, our desires are named, reoriented, and even redirected. To stop praying for things that we have not received is to miss the opportunity to be challenged and consoled by a God who loves us more than we can imagine. God’s mercies are new every morning, and they flow to us whether or not we ask for them. But as C.S. Lewis once wrote in The Magician’s Nephew, “he likes to be asked.”

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