Does Prayer Even Make a Difference?
Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up. (Luke 18:1 CEV)
Let’s be honest here. How many times have you prayed and prayed … and praaaayed about something in your life, only to see no change and no affirmative answer to your prayer?
- Perhaps you prayed for a sick loved one to get better, and he/she died.
- Perhaps you prayed for your marriage to improve, and it worsened.
- Perhaps you prayed for your finances to come up, and they went down.
- Perhaps you prayed for a lost friend’s heart to soften, and it hardened.
- Perhaps you prayed for a different outcome to the 2012 election, and it didn't happen.
What gives when you pray about something heavy on your heart, something you feel is good and right, and He doesn't do as you requested. Have you ever gotten discouraged in prayer, secretly wondering if it even makes a difference?
PRAYER MAKES A DIFFERENCE!
To be sure, prayer is always right and always makes a difference, even when the results don’t go the way you wanted.
1. Sometimes we pray the wrong thing, and God says, “No.” He, being omniscient, knows what we need and what we don’t. He knows what is truly good for us in the long run, and what is not. When we get a direct “no” to our prayers, it is God’s way of saying, “You are barking up the wrong tree in this request. You are asking me for something that would not be truly beneficial to you in your walk with Me.” Remember, God’s priority is not to make you happy, but to make you holy. And as you and I grow in holiness, we grow in happiness and real joy.
Job, who had his share of prayers go awry, said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). God will not violate His Word and His Will to answer your prayer. Every “no” from God is an opportunity for us to pray differently. Even a spiritual heavy weight like Moses got a “no” from God. In response to his request to go into the Promised Land – even though God had already told him he wasn't going to let him go in – God said, “Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter” (Deut. 3:26). Moses had to change his prayer … and sometimes we do too because we don’t see the bigger picture.
2. Sometimes we pray the right thing, and God says, “Not yet.” In this case, the prayer is right, but the timing is wrong. There is more work that needs to be done in us and in the circumstances around us.
It is important to remember that God is NOT some heavenly slot machine who must pay out if you put in enough “prayer” coins. Affirmatively answered prayed is not the ultimate goal of prayer. Communion and fellowship with God is the ultimate goal. Entering into God’s presence and talking with Him from your heart is what He really wants and what will really change you.
How hard is it for the God who spoke the worlds into existence to answer your prayer for finances, or health, or a job? It’s as easy as pie. But, how hard is it for God to change your life and make you a man or woman of character and Christ-likeness? That is another matter altogether, and prayer (along with Bible study) is the main vehicle God has given us to make that happen.
3. Sometimes we pray the near-right thing, and God says, “I've got a bigger and better idea.” Perhaps you join with the multitudes who pray for righteousness to prevail in an election … that Americans would rise up and repudiate candidates who espouse a biblically immoral agenda. Even if that prayer is not answered affirmatively, it is not a wasted prayer.
God is getting ready to answer that prayer in a bigger and better way. Jesus Christ, the Righteous Judge, is one day closer to returning to planet earth to set up His righteous rule and reign. You see, the Bible makes it clear that things get progressively worse before His coming. But when He comes, all is made right. In that coming day, His perfect will shall be the order of the day. Love and joy and peace and safety will cover the land as the waters cover the sea. I can’t wait!
My friend, if you have gotten discouraged in your prayers … keep praying. He is good. He is God, and He never makes a mistake. He longs to hear from you and change you as you marinate in His awesome presence. Jesus said, “Pray all the time and never give up” (Luke 18:1 GW). Will you do it?
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