Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Agree / Disagree?
"Prayer works!" might be a catchy bumper sticker phrase but in reality, if the act of praying is the source of people being helped, healed or given hope, then it is more magic than authentic conversation with God.
Agree or disagree below . . . with a statement, a story, a scripture . . .
YES I AM AGREE WITH PRAYER IS WORK AND GIVE THE HOPE
Yes... and No. :)
Prayer is so much more than the abracadabera wand that so many make it out to be. Prayer is direct communication with the very heart of a sovereign God who loves us more that we could ever imagine.
If you could choose to have infinite communication with GOD... knowing that He would sometimes say yes to your requests and sometimes say no, but it would always be out of a wellspring of love deeper than you could possible imagine; OR to have a genie in a bottle who does not care about you in the least, but would grant your every request... which would you choose??
The question is more difficult than we realize. While we know the "right" answer... so often we ask God to simply be our genie in a bottle, rather than our Abba Daddy.
Look to the 4th chapter of Philippians & you will see: "Be anxious for nothing. Instead, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus."
By itself, the statement "prayer works" is false, in my opinion. If it were the prayer itself that worked, then it would not matter to whom we prayed - God, Allah, Buddha, some "inner strength", etc. It's the same thing with faith. Faith in itself has no value - the value is in the object of the faith. I can have all the faith I want, but if it's not in God, it has no value. Faith and prayer (which are closely related) have value only in the sense that their focus is on God.
It is true that God typically chooses to work in answer to prayer. But we must never forget that He is totally sovereign and can work through prayer or outside of it if he so chooses. Who prayed for the Flood? Who asked him to choose Abraham? Whose intercession was it that led to the exile of Israel? God determined to send a Messiah long before anyone prayed about that (though we know that there were folks, like Anna and Simeon, who were praying for the Messiah, knowing that the time was near).
God calls us alongside the work he is doing through prayer. And there are times when he determines to wait for the prayers of his people before intervening. But that's his sovereign choice, not a limit on his power. We must never fall into the trap of believing that God cannot act outside our prayers. He can, and does - and fortunate for us!!
One further evidence that God is not bound by our prayers (or lack of prayers) - Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine". His answers are often well beyond anything we would have known - or dared - to ask for. It is fortunate indeed for us that God is sovereign to act as he will. He's not like a genie who can only grant specific wishes as they are verbalized by whoever rubs the bottle! Nor his he a vending machine, whose options are limited to what's in stock and whose only possible response to a selection by a customer is to provide (or not provide) that selection. He is all-wise, all-gracious, all-loving - and hence, he often does not answer our prayers in the way that our often selfish and always limited minds conceive.
On a slightly different track, I'd offer this for consideration. When we use the phrase "prayer works" (whether or not we actually mean that God works through prayer), we often think of "working" in the sense of getting what we asked for. I'd like to suggest that the measure of whether or not prayer is "working" is actually whether it is drawing us closer to God and whether He is accomplishing his will in and through us rather than whether or not what we asked for happens exactly as we envisioned it. In this sense, I'd propose that Paul's prayer for the removal of the thorn in his flesh "worked" - not because God removed the thorn, but because God answered that prayer in a way that gave Paul new insight into how God took care of him and that ultimately led to Paul being able to rely on God with a sense of contentment in any and every circumstance (Philippians 4:12). To suggest that this prayer did not work because Paul didn't get what he asked for would, in my opinion, entail a much narrower understanding of prayer than Scripture teaches.
So, was Paul's prayer wrong b/c it wasn't in God's will? I'm going to say No, it wasn't wrong. It wasn't wrong because Paul honestly brought his heart's desire to God and because Paul responded to God's answer with acceptance and joy. As a result, prayer "worked". I think that perhaps the reason prayer doesn't "work" more often for us is that we so often envision only one possible answer to our prayer, and anything outside of that specific answer indicates that prayer was "wrong" or didn't "work". But if prayer opens the door for God to work in our lives, then in my opinion, that prayer "worked", even if it didn't come out as we anticipated.
I totally agree, Stephen.
God works. Prayer puts us in a position to experience His work.
"Prayer Works" implies that petitions might be granted, which is a cheap kind of a recommendation of One Who wants our heart and soul. That 'your soul Lover hears you' is what we should more want to convey, but how to put that into a trendy quip could be a challenge.
I wholeheartedly agree with this. I was about to say it myself. It is God who works through our coming to Him with our adoration, worship, petitions, supplications, intercessions. We grow closer to Him as we see the work He does through our prayers.