I recently heard it said, and I have often thought the same myself, that prayer, or more specifically, Mass, is repetitive. Having recently come home from Lourdes I could say that my experience of praying the Rosary is definitely repetitive. I am not even sure if I manage to think too much about saying all those words. Sometimes I am just drawing a blank.
In the last chapter of Sing a New Song: A Christian Vocation Timothy Radcliffe OP reflects that repetition is not always the bad thing that everyone sees it to be. When I am in love I tell someone 'I love them' many times a day. I may also tell everyone else lots too, and I am sure they appreciate that! It is not enough to say 'I love you' once.
GK Chesterton argues, says Radcliffe, that repetition is characteristic of the vitality of children who like the same stories again and again, not because they are bored or unimaginative, but because they delight in life. Chesterton writes:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, 'Do it again'; and the grown up person does it again and again until he is nearly dead, for grown up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again,' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessities that make all daisies alike; it may be that God makes each daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg.'
Why should prayer be about thinking? Simon Tugwell OP wrote: 'I do not think about my friend when he is there beside me; I am far too busy enjoying his presence. It is when he is absent that I will start to think about him. Thinking about God all too easily leads us to treat him as if he were absent. But he is not absent'