Does prayer work?

“Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” Matthew 21: 22

Prayer works. It is that simple. There is nothing complicated about it. Find out for yourself. Pray.

Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. James 5:17-18

Prayer is not like rubbing a magic lamp. God is not a genie that grants three wishes. However, pray with faith and God will hear you. He will answer your prayers. Trust me. No, trust him.

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. Psalm 69:13

From the time that God has revealed himself to humankind we have had prayer. We pray to ask God for help, to overcome temptation, to cure a loved one, and to forgive us, among other requests. We pray for things that are important to us. Especially when we are in trouble, we plead to God in prayer.

Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. Psalm 5:1-3

We usually pray because we want something from God. People who have never prayed before drop to their knees for the first time when something bad happens in their lives. We turn to God just as we did (or still do) to a parent. It is sad to say, but most of us don’t often look for God when things are going well. We take him and the “good times” in our lives for granted. How many of us pray simply to thank God when things are going well and we don’t need anything from him?

Prayer is the belief that what you are asking for will happen. Just understand that the answer to prayer is God’s answer—what he knows we need. What we think we need and what God knows we need are often different. That’s because we are most often focused on the world and the things in it. God’s focus is very different.

It is very important to realize that we should not just be asking God for something in prayer. We should be thanking him.

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

Prayer is about a continuous conversation with God. I’m not suggesting we walk around talking to God so that people stare at us. Prayer is something that needs to come from the heart. It is a continuous soulful exchange with God, not simply a periodic exchange of words.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We often need to converse with God in private. We need to listen for God’s response. That requires quiet.

Jesus not only taught us what to say, he also taught us how to pray. Prayer was very important to him. As the Gospels tell us, he typically went off by himself to pray, often for long periods.

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12

Prayer isn’t about dropping to our knees for a few minutes and reciting words. It isn’t about something we only do in church. It is about a soulful conversation with God. We talk and God listens. We listen. God responds.

I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer. Psalm 66:16-19

Regardless of how busy we are, we need to pray. It keeps us in touch with God. If we can’t make time for God, how can we expect God to make time for us?

You will never know if prayer works unless you give it a meaningful try. You will never hear from God until you take the time to open up a conversation with him.

Pray. Try it; you’ll like it!