I believe that prayer makes a difference. Don’t ask me to try to explain it in a relatively short bloggage. But I have experienced the difference that prayer makes in my own life, and have seen prayers answered for others.
In fact all my prayers are answered.
Before you stampede towards me with your lottery tickets and ailments let me clarify. Prayer is a conversation between us and God. He wants to be involved in our lives, he is not aloof. So when we pray he joins in the conversation, answering our prayers. That includes all types of prayer – praise, telling him how I feel, asking for advice, requests, contemplation, blessings, seeking forgiveness, and so on. God responds to them all. So part of what I am saying in the italicised statement is that God’s responses to my prayers are as varied as the prayers.
By way of example, when I was seeking guidance about an important life decision a while ago several different ‘coincidences’ happened that led me down a particular path which I sensed was what God wanted me to do. The ‘coincidences’ confirmed what I felt. Or, when I have been praising God in prayer I sometimes get a shiver down my spine. That could be temperature related (but it happens whatever the environment) or may be the result of other stimuli, but it is so consistent that it feels to me that it is part of the way that God is responding – as I realise who he is.
But (and you knew it was coming) he does not always answer our prayers (especially requests) in the way that we want or hope. Sometimes the answer is ‘sorry, no’. Sometimes it is ‘I have a better idea’. Sometimes it is (with a loving smile) ‘You haven’t really thought about the consequences of what you’re asking have you?’ And many more besides. And when I come in penitence seeking forgiveness I find that the answer is already waiting for me: ‘Yes. Completely. Because Jesus has sorted it out for you your forgiveness is here. Now let’s make a fresh start. Receive more of my Spirit to help you.’
The scene in Bruce Almighty where Bruce (having temporarily been given God’s powers) decides to answer ‘Yes to all’ prayers is telling. Chaos ensues when everyone wins the lottery, for example. We are interconnected. ‘Yes’ for one person may have consequences for another. ‘Yes’ may not be the best answer.
So what’s the point in praying? Well, it connects us with God. It enables us to listen to him. It helps us to see things from his perspective. It builds trust. It helps us to recognise his voice more easily. It enlivens our soul. It opens us up to possibilities we might not have considered. It widens our understanding and appreciation of God. It blesses. It allows us to express our honest emotions. It helps us to make fresh starts. It helps us to see things differently. It involves God in all aspects of our life. It helps us express our concerns to God for others. It shifts our perspective God-ward. I could go on…
In the next week or so I will be distributing some prayer cards to the businesses in the streets around us. On them I will be offering for our church to pray for those businesses in whatever way they would like us to pray. There is space on the rear of the cards for them to write whatever they would like on them and drop them through our church letterbox, where we will collect them and use them in our praying together.
I am not offering growth in profits or record sales. Indeed I am not promising any specific answers. But I do promise that we will pray as asked, and that God answers our prayers – often in surprising ways.
If you would like us to pray for you please visit our church website here and send me an email. We will gladly do so.
How will you pray today?
Be blessed, be a blessing.