Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Does prayer work?
Here’s the long answer:
What exactly do we mean when we ask the question: “Does prayer work?”
Most likely, it means, “If I pray to God, will He give what I want?”
If this is why we come to God in prayer, I’d like to encourage us to reevaluate our thinking.
Don’t get me wrong–in prayer, of course we can ask God for things. Philippians 4:6 says to let our requests be made known unto God. In short, God wants to fulfill our needs and desires. As our Heavenly Father, He loves us and wants to supply our needs, and He doesn’t want us to suffer.
I should say–BUT He doesn’t want us suffer.
This means that although we have our own desires, ultimately God knows what we need in our lives and what will harm us beyond human comprehension. The things that may harm us the most may be what we are asking for.
Understand that God’s answer to our requests may not be what we have in mind. The good news is that His answer is always better than what we have in store–even if we don’t see it yet.
It comes down to trusting God. Do you believe God is who He says He is? A loving Father, an all-knowing, all-powerful God? If so, rejoice and be glad, because anything He gives will be a gift that will allow you to be shaped into His image of love, wisdom, and strength. He gives GOOD gifts.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)
So what happens when we pray?
Through God, I’ve been shown and fully understand that prayer is a powerful weapon. It is (and should be) our #1 weapon, our first decision–not the last resort.
God has changed my heart and transformed my life through prayer. He restores, He heals, He listens, and He answers. I’ve experienced, seen, and felt these things all through communicating with Him. I like to think prayer is having a dialogue with God, and I still am left in awe of thinking about it this way–to be able to have a constant conversation with an all-knowing God is amazing, especially knowing how weak and limited I am as a human.
I want to invite and urge you to take prayer seriously. This is your answer. You will never go wrong in seeking God.
Just being able to pray to Him is a journey in itself–watch as He will transform your life and how you will learn to surrender and trust Him. Spend time with God.
You might be thinking:
“How can I improve my prayer life?”
Here’s a list of practical things that I do that has dramatically changed my prayer life:
No more “I know I need to pray more.” No more “I would pray more if my morning wasn’t so busy.” Instead of thinking or saying these things, actually PRAY. It can be on your walk, in your office desk, in the lecture hall. You have free access to God anywhere and anytime. Unfortunately, today we idealize and idolize “busyness.” Who says you have to be busy 24/7? Society. Maybe parents. Peers. Coworkers. Yourself. But the Bible reminds us about the importance of being still (not restless).
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10 KJV)
(I actually wrote a post on stillness here).
Of course this doesn’t mean don’t do anything you have to do. We have busy schedules, and that’s okay. What’s not OK, is being “too busy” for God. If you feel like you’re at this place, reevaluate some things. Check your heart. What’s the purpose behind the things you “have” to do? Truth is, you’re just too busy with the wrong things.
Be intentional in prayer. Be active in prayer. Be diligent in prayer. Do you love God? Do you want to know what He has in store for you? Do you want to lay down your life for Him? Put Him first. No more excuses.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15 KJV)
Keep a prayer journal.
This is actually something I have been meaning to do for a long time, and I finally did this week. It doesn’t have to be anything special–I’ve taken an ordinary notebook and started jotting down prayer requests–as well as how God has answered these prayers.
It’s been amazing to keep track of what and who has been on my heart to pray for–and even more amazing to see how God answers these requests. A prayer journal serves as encouragement for us to look back and see how God actually is working in our lives.
Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; (Psalm 105:5 KJV)
Also, it is so important for us to keep others in prayer. This is true love–for us to ask God to redeem others and to intervene on their behalf–so that they might have the full life that only He promises–and most importantly that they might have eternal life in heaven.
The Bible encourages us to love others as we would like to be loved. Think about how overwhelming it is when we know someone else has been praying for us. Remember to pray consistently for others–those you know and don’t know. Pray by their name, pray specifically about their situation. See how God works.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, (1 Timothy 2:1 ESV)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)
Incorporate Scripture in your prayer.
There is power in the Word of God. It is the source of truth, life and freedom–learn and study His Word to access these things.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
When we recite Scripture in prayer, we are affirming what God has already said. In Micah 3:6, God affirms that He is Lord and does not change. That means all the promises in the Word that He has said is YOUR portion!
Memorizing Scripture is a lifeline, especially when the enemy attacks you with doubt. Responding with the Word of God is encouraging to us and also will make the enemy flee from you. Why? Because God is powerful, and He has already conquered evil and death.
As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 18:30 NIV)
Not only do we affirm God’s promises by incorporating Scripture in prayer, but we affirm who He is. That is, that He is almighty and capable of answering our prayers and directing us in His perfect plan.
I like to think of studying the Word as a heart-check. Learning the Word allows us to submit to what God says–and knowing that God is good, we know that doing this is the right choice. But In order to find out who God is, we must go to the source that reveals who He is–the Bible.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)
So, does prayer “work”?
Absolutely. Prayer works on hearts. Prayer works on lives. Prayer pleases God.
I urge you to pray. Cast your cares to God. Let Him heal you and show you wisdom. Praise and acknowledge who God is through prayer.