Is prayer ever a waste of time?
…pray without ceasing, (Thessalonians 5:17)
I pray ludicrous prayers.
I pray my dreams. I pray my fears. I read God’s word aloud so He remembers what He promised (wink) while I also remember what He says. Sometimes I cry like a baby and other times I smile as I write entries in a thank you journal. Each day brings a new conversation just like in relationships with people.
Is prayer a waste of time if the prayers aren’t answered?
I say no, and here are some reasons why.
1. Many prayers do get answered.
I have lived some miracles. I have watched bills get paid when there was no money., have watched jobs be provided when the bank account was on life support, have watched chunks of debt disappear in one day, and there was that one day someone essentially gave us a house. More importantly, I have watched some people commit their lives to Christ and others grow in their faith and have their lives transformed. Oh yes, I have seen miracles as a result of prayer.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16b)
2. Praying assures the answer is from God.
The way I figure, if I pray hard about something and the answer is no, then I know the answer is from God and not a consequence of my neglect to pray. This week, for example, I prayed that my son would land on the same winter basketball team as his friend. Today the roster revealed my son and his friend are not on the same team. Because I had prayed, I received the answer from God. I said to my son, “Being on the same team as your friend was not going to be God’s best.” God clearly wants me sitting in the bleachers with some other mom, or my son to be friends with some other young man as well. All because I prayed…
And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:15)
3. God changes my heart.
Like David in so many of the Psalms, I often start my prayer time with the emotions of the day (which aren’t pretty, especially if I haven’t had coffee yet) and I end up forgiving and praying for my enemies with a sincere heart some minutes later. It’s like prayer opens up a channel between heaven and earth and as my heart is pouring out upward, God’s hand is reaching down and reshaping my thinking and feelings to align with His. (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven). I am so often changed while I pray.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
4. People hear less junk.
There’s a lot of junk that pours from my heart. I don’t pull any punches because the condition of my heart is at risk. The Bible says. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23) Like you, I get my feelings hurt. I get angry and worried. At times I am scared. Sometimes I am disgusted with myself! Expressing the ugly stuff to God before sharing any of it with people is a great strategy. So often the negativity is completely solved with prayer alone and there is no more need to say anything to people. In such cases, my friends and family are spared the drama. If after praying, something remains that needs to be shared, prayer has put me in a better place to say it. People get more love and less spewing, and more productive talk then destructive. Because God has already listened to me, I am better able to listen to others.
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19)
Try praying this week. It’s not a waste of time!
Picture Explanation: Our twin girls turned 25 this week. I did not plan for them and do not deserve them. They are His grace to me. They live in different states, so I visited one the weekend before her birthday and we celebrated the other the weekend after.
I remember praying for them by name my entire pregnancy and looked forward to meeting them! It’s been so much fun to watch their lives unfold and observe talent and ability that far exceeds my own. They are better than me at so many things.
The longer I mother, the more I realize all I can do is pray. I don’t have the power to produce any particular result from my actions. All is grace. My prayers will continue to follow them for the rest of their days.
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