August 1, 2020

Prayer—Useful or Useless?

I must admit I have gone to God asking for what I wanted when I wanted it. Is this an attempt to control God? Pretty much.

Do I get frustrated or disappointed when the Lord overrides my requests? Even when I ask with what I consider best intentions and a pure heart? And from my limited point of view my pleas seem reasonable? Yes, yes, and yes.

Even at that, I know it’s a good thing God doesn’t answer my pleas the way I expect. Because if God were obligated to do everything I ask, then what’s the difference between Him and me? How dangerous would it be for me—and others—to be all-powerful but not all-knowing or all-loving?

When I consider the following verse:  “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.”—Psalm 135:6 (NIV), I can take either comfort or discomfort in this.

Still, if God does whatever He wants, why pray at all? Could I possibly change God’s mind?

Malachi 3:6 states, “I, the Lord, do not change.” Yet, in Hosea 11:8, He says, “My heart is changed within me, all my compassion is aroused.”

Although God’s character never changes, He does assure us that our prayers reach Him and touch Him. This is evidenced when David built an altar to the Lord and God answered David’s prayer in behalf of the land, stopping the plague He had sent on Israel.—2 Samuel 24:25

Other great stories of prayers changing God’s plans occur in the book of Jonah when God ended up not destroying Nineveh because the Ninevites prayed and repented.

And 2 Kings 20 reveals the Lord sending Isaiah to King Hezekiah to tell him he was going to die. But Hezekiah prayed and repented. God sent Isaiah back to tell him He had heard his prayer and seen his tears, so He would heal him.

All right! God listens to us when our hearts turn to Him. Yea and amen!

Surprise Answers to Prayer

When I pray, in my mind’s eye, I picture the way God will answer. Does this limit my Creator? Does it ever!           

 A great testimony to how God answers prayers but in a way none of us could predict appears in the book of Daniel. Daniel was a praying man. In fact, that’s what got him into trouble. Despite King Darius’ edict against prayer, Daniel prayed three times a day. So, the king tossed him into the lions’ den. Now because Daniel was a fervent prayer, doesn’t it stand to reason that prior to being tossed, he would have prayed for God to not let that happen in the first place? Yet, it did, and God answered Daniel’s prayers for deliverance in a different way. The Sovereign Lord shut the mouths of the lions! Because Daniel came out unscathed, King Darius decreed that people throughout his kingdom must fear and reverence the living God of Daniel.—Daniel 6.

Yea! No matter how things look from our perspective, God sees the bigger picture:  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”—Isaiah 55:9 (NIV). Thank heavens, (literally) God is the Creator, the One who designs the Master Plan.

Prayer is About Change

So, does prayer make a difference?

Prayer changes things, but more importantly it changes me because it draws me closer to God the Father, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Thought for the day: When I trust God has carefully and lovingly considered my prayer, I will be ready to face whatever is in my path.

Thank you, Jesus, for knowing what I need and what will strengthen me and develop my character.