Not exactly. But over at Kuyperian Commentary, a blog site devoted to conservative politics and Christian theology, Luke Welch has an excellent article on whether we are right to pray repeatedly for something. In Does Praying More Times Make God More Likely to Answer?, Mr. Welch compares two texts:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4.8)
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4)
His analysis is simple and elegant and I strongly recommend that you check out the whole post (about 800 words)…and then browse the rest of the site, which is impressive and deserves more traffic than it seems to have at the moment.
Double-mindedness is mentioned a couple of times in James’ letter (including the verse quoted above), and Welch makes a good case for it referring to
“… idolatrous bet-hedging. It means if you are asking Zeus for help because your doubt whether Yhwh is enough, then your heart is given to two masters, and you are unstable, and should not think you will get anything from Yhwh.”
This idea of hedging one’s bets really struck me. I have a sense that some folks pray, in a time of crisis, because, “Well, it couldn’t hurt.”
But if asking the God of the Universe for help is treated like touching wood, or pocketing a rabbit’s foot, then why should God honor that prayer?
Remember: “God helps those who help themselves” is NOT in the Bible. If asking for God’s input in any situation is not the first thing we’re doing, then we’re doing something wrong. We’re relying on our own (or some other human’s) strength or wisdom or know-how before God’s.
But in reality it’s even more basic than that. For the Christian, talking to God should be such a habitual and continual discipline that turning to Him in crisis is no different than turning to Him at any other moment of the day. If we are truly in relationship with someone, we share life together–highs and lows, mundane and earth-shaking. If I only speak to my best friend when I’m in a bind, what does that say about our friendship?
So back to my question at the top: does God judge our prayers? He certainly knows if we’re seeking Him as one of a panel of potential candidates who might help. Simply invoking His name is not a magic formula, and God isn’t a cosmic vending machine, obligated to spit out the sweet result if I’ve inserted the proper coin of words.
I know that I frequently (okay, usually) fall short of Paul’s instruction to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). But the more that I cling to my Lord as to my dearest friend, the less likely it is for me to become double-minded.
I need not fear God as Judge when He has been my Chief Counsel all along.