Does prayer really work?
To answer this question we need to know what we are expecting from prayer. And this is a tricky thing, it’s an individual thing, very personal.
Do we pray in the hopes of changing God’s mind?
Do we pray with our own personal wish list in hand?
Do we intercede for others and ask God to do what we think is best?
Do we say, “Your will be done.” and do we mean it?
Do we pray for miracles believing He can really do it?
What do we hope to gain from prayer?
Why do we pray?
These are some tough questions. I want to be careful to let you know that I am only sharing what God has been teaching me over the past few years about prayer. I dare say He has changed my heart in miraculous ways. And I believe it is a result of prayer.
Our community spent 24 hours begging God for a miracle in the life of a little boy who was on life support last week. Entire churches praying. Schools. Families. We came together and prayed for that miracle. And now that little boy is in heaven with Jesus.
We didn’t get the miracle we prayed for. So, why did we pray? Do we give up praying now? What is the use?
I think the answer to that question depends on why you pray.
I pray to know God more. I pray because my relationship with God is personal and relational. I pray to hear from God. I pray because I love my Savior.
I pray more and more lately begging God to change my will and make it His. I pray for His will because I have faith. I have faith that His will is truly best. I didn’t say His will is easiest or fastest or simplest. His will is best. I pray believing.
A few years ago my husband and I went through a rough time. I just knew I had married the wrong man because he sure wasn’t living up to my expectations of what marriage should look like. (ha! I was so young and naive.)
Out of sheer desperation I started praying for my husband. And, I will admit that my prayers changed over the months and years. I stopped praying for God to change my husband. I started praying for my husband’s heart, his faith, his family, our marriage, for strength, for courage.
Our marriage is stronger today because God changed me through my prayers for my husband. I am less critical. I am more positive. Not only do I not say the negative things, I honestly don’t even feel them!! God changed my heart! Yes, we still have issues and will til we get to heaven. But my attitude is different…better.
During that same time period when our marriage was struggling, we left the church we had been in for many years. The church we were married in. The church that had all our baby showers. The church we loved. But, we were hurt. We were hurt and we couldn’t trust. So, we began looking for another church family to call home. Finally we came to the church that we now attend. We have been there 6 years or so. We love it so very much.
But, it took awhile. For an entire year I sat in the congregation and didn’t get involved. A year is a long time for someone who has grown up in the church and served in lots of capacities for many years. But that year was the best thing I did!! It was a year of healing. As we began getting more involved, finding a small group, joining the choir, God prompted me to start praying. You see, I tend to be critical. Not only with my husband, but in all areas of life. And that included my church, the leadership and decisions being made.
God prompted me to start praying for my church family before I even really knew that it was more for me than for them. God had a huge lesson to teach me in prayer and in loving people.
The more we pray, the more we love.
It’s true. Our church is fairly big. There is no way to have a personal relationship with ALL the pastors or ALL the deacons or ALL of any group. But, through consistent, fervent prayer for these leaders and brothers and sisters in Christ, I grew to love these people with a passion. I became less critical when I didn’t agree with a certain decision. I prayed for people I didn’t even know because they were my church family. I hurt when they hurt. I wept with and for people that weren’t even close to me. I love people more.
And it’s all because God prompted me to start praying.