But do my prayers, and the prayers of everyone else, make any difference? For me, the answer is this simple: it depends.
Am I praying to obtain something? Is it something I need or something I want – and do I really know the difference?
Am I trying to change God or me?
Am I praying for someone? If yes, am I framing my prayer with the presumption I know what’s best for this person?
How am I approaching prayer? Am I desperate? Sad? Angry? Going through the motions?
Do I subconsciously think God is grading my effort – and His response (or lack thereof) depends on how I do?
When you consider just these questions, it’s no surprise that, in his wonderful book Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?, Philip Yancey, writes “We who barely comprehend ourselves are approaching a God we cannot possibly comprehend. No wonder some Christians through the centuries have felt more comfortable praying to saints or relying on intermediaries.”
So why pray? For serious Christians, one answer is easy and simple: because prayer was a foundation of Jesus’s life. In the Bible’s four stories of His life, more than a dozen prayers by Jesus (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God) are recorded. And if you read those prayers, you’ll quickly realize Jesus prayed like it made a huge difference.
Here’s another good reason: when we pray, we open ourselves up to hearing or sensing what God wants to tell us. The website allaboutprayer.org puts it this way: “Prayer not only establishes a relationship with God, it is vital to maintaining our relationship with him.”
A relationship developed in prayer can have immense ramifications. According to the late author and Catholic priest Henri Noewen, “One of the discoveries we make in prayer is the closer we come to God, the closer we come to all our brothers and sisters in the human family.”
Of course, this can be scary because the potential is there to shake us out of our placid, comfortable lives. As Philip Yancey put it in another of his books, “Prayer is the act of seeing reality from God’s point of view.” And once we see that reality, we may never be the same.
In fact, if our praying is sincere, we can be transformed into more generous, loving and forgiving people who have a truer picture of who God is and what He wants to accomplish in this world.
And that means we can be more like Jesus.
Does this make sense? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.