We believe prayer works! Usually when people say, “Prayer works,” they mean, “God answered my prayer in the way I wanted God to answer it.” But even if the prayers we pray are not answered in the manner in which we prayed, prayer still works! Whenever we spend extended time with God we are changed, shaped and moved. God is God and we are not, and we can ALWAYS trust him are the lessons of prayer.
“Prayer works” can imply that prayer is like a vending machine. It’s not. You don’t drop in a prayer and assume God is not “out of order,” and the prayer is automatically and, more importantly, affirmatively answered. Simply because someone, somewhere prayed does not mean that God is compelled to automatically answer that prayer request with a great big “Yes.” (If that were the case, the Detroit Lions would have won the Super Bowl years ago). In my past, I thought I knew what was best and prayed for it (only to later learn it wasn’t the best), and I’m glad God said “No.” I don’t think God replied, “Hey knucklehead, are you crazy?” to my requests, but once I had the advantage of all of the facts, I realized how thankful I should be that God said, “No.”
If the previous two paragraphs are correct (and I’d like to think they are), then here are my three words of advice when we spend times in genuine prayer: Fasten your seatbelts!
James 5:13 says: The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (I know plenty of people who are rightly called “prayer warriors”). And…
1 Peter 3:12 says:“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” (Did I mention that some of the finest people I know are pray-ers?)
And the big KABOOM! is in Matthew 7:7, where Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Now I don’t know how God will work. I don’t know when God will work. I don’t know the nitty, gritty details of God’s working, but I know as God responds (either with a “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait”), God is always up to something good. ALWAYS. Jesus went on to say, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11). In other words, following times of genuine prayer from genuine people, fasten your seatbelts we are in for an amazing ride because you got it: “Prayer works!”