What Exactly Does Prayer Do? In a discussion with a friend recently, we began to discuss this topic. Does prayer make a difference?
Prayer can definitely be a difficult concept to understand if you accept the tenets that God is all powerful, all knowing, all seeing, and everywhere all at once. Honestly, if one logically thinks it through, how can we even think for a moment that our mighty and perfect God would be affected by what we have to say to Him? One of my messages a while back on making godly decisions was about prayer (see Sermons link on right). First we must understand that prayer is simply a conversation with God. God wants us to pray so we can have a relationship with Him. He wants us to talk to Him, to listen to Him, and to tell Him what we need (See Philippians 4). Also in John 14:7-15 we see that whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus, He will do for us. Does this mean that I can get whatever I want from God? No, it means that if whatever I am asking for is truly asked in the name of Jesus it will be for the glory of God and thus it will come to be.
With that being said, the question remains: Do my prayers affect my future…Do they mean anything to my God who controls all of time? The answer is yes. See Genesis, Gen. 18:20-33. Here in this passage, the Lord sends three men (angels) to go and meet with Abraham and to investigate the problems in Sodom and Gomorrah. Upon finding out that the Lord intended on destroying the cities, Abraham prayed to Him to have mercy if a small number of righteous people could be found living there. The Lord granted Abraham's prayer. This same type of prayer can also be found in Gen 21:9-21. Hagar prays to the Lord that she will not see her son die. "An angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is." According to these two passages, it is clear that our Lord, hears us and does indeed act in our lives based on our prayers. Notice that on both instances that God heard and responded to those who prayed to Him.
We do not, however completely understand the relationship between God's will and our entreaties. There is a sort of mystery involved in this relationship that may never be solved. What we can rest on as believers is that we have a God who loves us and who is active in our lives. He wants us to pray to Him…To ask Him for what we need, what we desire, what is troubling us or makes us happy. Most importantly, after reading about the prayer relationship that Jesus had with the Father, we realize that prayer is about relating to God, about talking, crying, singing, or just sitting in silence to hear His quiet voice. Whatever is necessary in order for us to experience His presence. That is what prayer is about. Spending time with our loving Father.
What do you think?