Does Prayer Really Work?
Believer and non-believer warriors have a time in their lives when they have found themselves talking to God. Whether you are in a bad situation down range and are negotiating with God the things you will or will not do in order to save you or your friends, or just feeling alone in the night and need someone to talk to. Losing friends, a child or a spouse has us begging for the timeline to change, the exchange of life and answers to questions that do not seem to come easily. Time spent waiting for a loved one and the fear of the unknown spur long conversations with the one who looks over your loved one.
When all in life is well, it seems like God is answering all of our prayers. Or, maybe, when all is well, we tend to pray less because we don’t feel the need to reach out to Him. It is truly a mystery when life starts to spiral out of control and we do not seem to get the answers that we want when we cry out to our Lord. Is He listening? Will He answer? And then the doubt of His existence…
So… Does God answer your prayers? The short answer is yes. First, prayers are heard by Him, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) The Psalmist says, “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” (Psalm 66:19) The Bible records plenty of occasions where prayers are answered. David is clear in the Psalms that his prayers are answered. Job, Jonah and Nehemiah all see themselves being the recipient of manifested grace as a result of their prayers.
It is important to understand first that God’s plan glorifies Himself. Only He is holy and worthy of praise. Why? Because He is God; He created everything. We are not worthy of Him answering our prayer. Yet, He answers that call of the sinner by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on our behalf. This is the ultimate answer to prayer and the fulfilment of His plan. When we pray, we should be seeking His glory. “Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.” (John 8:50) It is imperative to remember that for believers, God gives the perfect answer to prayer, but it is always in line with His divine plan. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So, start with perspective. Are you deserving of answered prayer? What have you done that puts you in a position to demand of God an answer that pleases you? You see, this is where most unanswered prayer becomes difficult for us. We often forget to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives. We forget to put Him first. Jesus was very clear when He was recorded in Matthew 6 by giving us what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus instructs us to put God first and recognize His holiness, ask for His provision, to forgive our sins and keep us from evil.
It is very easy for our prayer to become selfish. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3) When we are truly resting in the grace of our Lord, we always put His plan before ours. In Mark and Matthew Jesus is recorded as explaining how powerful prayer is. He explains that with a word, we can make a mountain throw itself into the sea. Here it is important to understand that Jesus is showing them a picture of a faithful person praying for God’s will to be done, not for their desires to be fulfilled.
For the warrior and their family, there may be times that it seems God is not listening to your prayers. Just as your call is bigger than you, your prayers should focus on the greater good. There is nothing wrong with asking God for healing or to take away your pain and sorrow. But, His plan may include painful things that our simple minds just cannot understand. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) He feels our pain and recognizes our sorrow. His plan is for our salvation, not for our comfort. And, He knows what we need. When we believe and are called among the faithful, you do not even need to utter a word. “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14)
Rest in Him… That His plan for you is perfect… That He loves you enough to sacrifice His Son… Our hope is in Him and His work and not in ourselves.