I feel very uncomfortable when I hear or read the phrase "prayer works!" on a number of levels. Firstly it appears to refer to prayer as a kind of separate power from God. The power of prayer does not exist alone; its the power of God Himself who heals, creates , restores. If we pray to a pink cow would that have the power to help us? Of course not.
Is prayer a kind of list of requests for what we need and want for ourselves and our friends ? Sometimes it is, certainly , He is our father , our daddy , and what child doesn't come to their loving father and ask for things. He expects that,even wants that of us. He is the great Giver of all good things. However He is not a slot machine, we put the penny and He delivers the chocolate . Prayer is so much more than that,just as being a christian is more than believe or action :its about a relationship with God .
In prayer we come before our Lord ,as we are, no words, to know Him better. We spend time in His presence in order to change and become more like Jesus, and hopefully so we can share His love with the world.As we put our inner desires before Him He may not change our circumstances but He will change us and as we grow closer to Him He will give us the strength to deal with all life throws at us, and we'll know His love and comfort with us.
In the past year I have made many requests to God about my life. Prayers for what I want, prayers for escape from pain and bad circumstances, prayers for change.Very few of these prayers have "worked". But of course I haven't stopped praying.Because in the past year I have prayed virtually every day for at least half an hour God has been so close to me. I've known His strength, His guidance, I have listened and heard His will for me and known His peace. I pray and He answers with HIMSELF! What more priceless treasure could I have??
Because God is my Father creator, saviour, and Lord He knows better than me what is right for me , what will serve His best purpose in my life. In His presence I can learn to trust Him for the future and for all he can and will do for me and my innermost desires.When my marriage ended I prayed that God would give me my husband back and He didn't. He knew that it wouldn't be the best way for me and probably not for my husband either, and I am so glad He didn't answer that prayer. On a larger,more global scale Nelson Mandela spent 30 years in jail in South Africa. How many times must he have prayed for release, for an end to his suffering? It is my understanding however that if as a young man Mandela had led his people he would have done it in his youth and fervour and anger in a violent way, no doubt leading to no change or peace. That time in prison changed Mandela, in God's presence, to a man God could use to bring about a change for the country , south Africans and the world.
For me the question isn't does prayer work? Its do we seek Gods face or His hands? This has been His message to me for the last few weeks. Seek my face, that is God for Himself and not what He can do for you. Then as you do you can become a place of blessing for others , not in a place of blessing for yourself.
A friend of mine told me a story about how it was thought that God should be put on trial for what the Jews went through in the war and so he was: all the evidence examined , cases for and against presented , and He was found guilty. Guilty of pain death abandonment of His people. So when this shocking conclusion had been reached what do we do? Well we pray!
When Jesus was on earth and after a controversial talk people were turning away in their droves He turned to His disciples and said "do you want to leave too" and Peter said " to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we have believed and come to know that you are the holy one of God"
To whom shall be go indeed? I know that in my life whether prayer "works" or not I will seek Gods face. He is the only one who can make a difference, the only one to turn to, and I am happy to know that my times are in His hands.