Prayer DOESN’T Change Things (God Does)
by Israel Wayne
I’ve really come to believe that prayer is powerless to change any of life’s problems. If prayer is all-powerful, why don’t we get everything we ask for? Why do we pray with no answer? It must be that prayer is unable to change our circumstances.
Before you disregard me as a total skeptic, let me issue this challenge: It isn’t our prayer that rescues us. It is the object of our prayer –God. Without a loving Father to hear and respond to our prayers, we are just talking to ourselves. This may seem like rambling over words, but the distinction is important to me. I used to put my faith in prayer. I expected to have every prayer answered, the way I wanted, and when I wanted it. After a while I became disillusioned, and wondered why my prayers weren’t being answered. I wondered why things didn’t turn out the way I expected.
The true power of prayer became clear to me when I saw two groups of Christians praying for opposite outcomes in a situation. The prayers of the first group were the total antithesis of the other. There was a 180 degree difference in the petitions. I couldn’t help but wonder which side God would honor. Surely both groups were sincere. There were certainly believers on both sides. They were both praying, but someone would be blessed, and the other let down.
It was then I realized who would receive the answer to their prayers. The people who had prayed aligned with God’s will. God has a certain agenda in every situation. His desires are often forgotten in our prayers. Instead of seeking God’s will, and praying in line with His purposes, we often attempt to dictate policy to Heaven. We try to tell God what to do. How arrogant!
Our model should be our Savior, who prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done.” (Matt. 26:39 & Luke 22:42) Jesus understood the importance of being tuned into the will of the Father. God’s plans and purposes are of utmost importance. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us -whatever we ask -we know that we have what we asked of him.” (NIV emphasis added)
It doesn’t say, “Simply because you have asked, you will receive whatever you want.”
James 4:2-3 “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (NIV)
You see, if prayer itself brought changes in our life, we get everything we asked for. Look at the millions of people who pray to idols of wood and stone. If prayer had the power to change things, idolaters would surely be blessed. Many Muslims are far more diligent to pray than Christians are. What separates us from them?
A living God is what separates our prayers from theirs. It wasn’t an act of muttering words that brought fire down from heaven. It wasn’t a meaningless liturgy that raised the dead and healed the lame. It isn’t the utterance of a prayer that saves us. It is the power of the only living God, who hears from heaven, and rescues us. Because of the work of Christ, we now have access to the throne of Almighty God, and we can approach Him boldly, knowing that He loves us. By praying for God’s perfect will to be done in our lives, even as it is done in Heaven, we will see awesome displays of God’s might. There is nothing that can stand in the way of God. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16 KJV)
We need to keep a proper perspective. The power isn’t us. It isn’t the words we speak. It isn’t even the length of our prayers. (Matt. 6:7) The power is in the God who is able, as He chooses, to act on our prayer of faith.
True faith isn’t believing strongly enough that God will do what we tell Him to. It is believing that God can accomplish His will in our lives in any way He chooses. It is believing that He will rescue us, in His own perfect timing, if we are aligned with His will. It is recognizing that there is no other name under Heaven whereby men can be saved. We put our trust not in ourselves, not in our petitions, but solely in the living God.
Ps. 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (NIV)