The children of Israel were slow to learn. For generations the cycle had repeated. The book of Judges repeatedly explains that when his people were unfaithful to him he allowed their enemies to triumph over them. When they repented victory returned.
So when they were defeated in Elis time they should have realised what they needed to do. Instead they realised the problem that God was fighting against them through his own enemies. But their solution was to rely on a formulaic approach. They believed that the Ark in a magical way would protect them. They did not seek the God of the Ark. Instead they presumed upon him.
I’m not great at prayer myself, but reading this passage gives me a renewed determination to learn. I’m aware that the only route to true success is in seeking Gods face.
The people of Israel spectacularly failed to appreciate that God is bigger than the means he gives us to reach him.
Lets not forget this lesson and hold lightly to methods, while we pursue his presence.