Your prayer life is one of the most important aspects of your Christian walk, both to you and to God – not to mention to the unaware people around you who may be positively affected by it. If you are a believer who does not do much praying, expect to have frequent trials and tribulations in life. I mean, if I were your god and I only heard from you when you had problems, I would be sure to give you more problems – because I love you and want to hear from you. Anyone who has been a Christian for a significant period of time can testify to the positive affect that prayer has had in their life. Most of us have experienced at least some miraculous-seeming answers to some of our prayers.
In fact miraculous answers to prayer can become so common that we get used to it after a while, and then only notice the ones that don’t seem to get answered to our liking. When this happens we can become upset, even angry, at the wonderful loving God who has been hearing and answering our prayers and taking care of us all along. It’s usually a big thing like a health issue or major financial crisis that gets us in this rather ungracious frame of mind. Thank God He understands our nature. We become like spoiled children sometimes, and forget about Romans 8:28.
The Apostle John’s scriptures include some interesting verses about prayer, including:
1 John 5:14-15
At first glance those verses might give the impression that we have an open credit line through prayer to get whatever we want from God. But Christians do not normally behave that way. We tend to offer mostly prayers of praise and gratitude, with a few intercessory prayers here and there for people around us. We tend to save up the selfish prayers for the big things, not wanting to “waste” them on frivolous matters. So when a big thing comes along (like the health issue of a loved one) and we don’t see the results that we wish for in our prayers, we can experience temporary lapses of faith.
A closer look at those verses, however, will reveal some interesting things about prayer. When Jesus was speaking about this subject he was speaking to his followers, not the multitudes. If you are a follower of Jesus you should be wanting God’s will to be done first and foremost, because you know that is ultimately what is best for all of us. Jesus gave us the perfect example in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane the night that he was arrested. He was fervently praying to somehow be able to avoid the coming torture, if it was possible – yet he also stressed that God’s will be done.
For prayer to be answered the way you want it to be answered, what you are wanting must be in accordance with God’s will. If you pray for something against God’s will, it will not be answered the way you are hoping. That brings up a natural question: What is the point of supplication through prayer then, since God’s will is going to be done regardless? The answer is, because it is also God’s will that we pray! It isn’t so much for His benefit as it is for ours. Praying is a commandment for Christians, so if for no other reason we should pray out of obedience.
However prayer does indeed affect a great many things, and there is good reason to think that all of our prayers are productive. Perhaps the prayers which we don’t think get answered in our favor actually do, only in a much more marvelous way than we could ever imagine. God can make everything work out for our own good and He is the one who knows what is best for us, not us. In any case, we cannot know which prayers will see immediate results (in the manner which we think we want) until we try. Some will. We have nothing to lose there really, and possibly the desired answer to our prayers to gain.
By the way, that prayer Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane is very insightful. Was he trying to get out of the cross? Heck yeah! Or at least, he just wanted to check in with the Father one more time to make sure there was no other way. No other way for what? No other way for man to get saved. If you could get saved by being a good person or by keeping a set of rules then Jesus would not have had to go to the cross. But he did have to go, even after praying to the Father not to. That right there should put to rest the notion of there being any possibility of getting into heaven without accepting the sacrifice which was made for us on that old rugged cross.
I think the song Blessings by Laura Story sums up my point better than I can. Here is a video of that song with the lyrics. If you have been disappointed in your prayer requests recently, perhaps even to the point of wondering what is the use, I highly recommend playing it.