Does prayer matter? Is prayer important in your life? As Christians we’re supposed to answer “yes” to these, right? Yet, I didn’t always feel so convicted. I hoped prayer worked. I trusted others who believed firmly in prayer. I followed the church’s teachings that prayer was critical. Yet, even though I prayed, my heart wasn’t fully convinced. How about you?
1) Is prayer something so vital in your life you’d risk your life for it?
What if it were made illegal to pray? What if the mere act of praying would land you in jail or in line for the executioner? Would you still find prayer so irresistibly important for your life that you’d continue praying anyway? Would you steadfastly cling to prayer no matter the consequences, like Daniel did even though he faced punishment of being thrown into the lion’s den? That’s a harder one to answer, isn’t it?
2) Where’s the proof that it works?
For much of my life I would have told you prayer was important, but I didn’t actually practice it other than saying prayers in church on Sundays. I’d given up on prayer as a child because God didn’t answer my prayer – or at least He didn’t answer my prayer in the way I wanted Him to.
I put God to the test and He failed to respond. Or, did he? How can we be sure?
You can find all kinds of “scientific” studies on prayer – some which “prove” prayer works and others which “prove” prayer is useless. Can you really put God to a scientific test? What hypothesis would you test? Pray for healing and test if God healed? But, how do you define “healed”?
We’ll never be able to scientifically prove God exists or that prayer works. Instead, if we’re unsure, we rely on the faith and experiences of others to carry us forward. Look to others around us who have experienced firsthand the power of prayer and lean on their faith.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:11-12 NIV)
3) What if I’m not sure prayer matters?
Before I experienced God in real and tangible ways, experienced firsthand the power of prayer, experienced the Holy Spirit working in my life, I would have answered this question with “I’m not sure.” At times in my life, I might have even discounted it altogether as nothing more than a desperate “Hail Mary pass” you throw up when you’re desperate and have nothing else.
In those years of doubt, questioning, and wonder, I had to lean on the faith of others. I was amazed at times to see how others believed in prayer so fervently. How they incorporated prayer into the very fabric of their lives and made it an essential part of every day. Their faith gave me the hope I needed to believe and the inspiration to keep trying prayer.
Being at a different point in my faith journey now and having experienced God through prayer, I can say without a doubt that prayer DOES MATTER. You just know it when you know it.
If you’re unsure about prayer, I don’t expect to convince you – only encourage you to lean on my faith and keep praying. Give God a chance to step in and allow Him convince you, without a doubt, that prayer does matter.
4) How can I test prayer for myself?
Instead of testing God by asking Him to answer particular prayers and provide specific answers, let’s enter prayer and simply ask God to come into our lives and reveal Himself to us.
Prayer isn’t just about asking God for something and then waiting for Him to respond. It’s about entering into relationship with God and having a conversation with Him. Requests are just one part of what we pray, but we should also praise Him, thank Him, say we’re sorry and share our lives with Him.
Prayer is about cracking the door open for God to enter your life and having a relationship with Him. As you journey this way with God, you’ll begin to see how He’s at work answering your prayers – ones you’ve prayed, ones others have prayed on your behalf, and ones you couldn’t even find the words to express.
5) How do you answer the question, “Does prayer matter to you?”
Whether you answered yes, no, or somewhere in between, will you enter this journey of prayer? Take a chance and see what God can do with you as you step ever closer. Stop praying about requests and instead focus simply on spending time with God. Give Him a chance to enter your conversation and your life. Then, see how your view of prayer may begin to change.
Pray Deep Challenge: Do you believe prayer matters? Do you believe it will work in your life? Journal about your answer. Why or why not? Then, enter a conversation with God about your responses through prayer. Commit to pray over your questions about prayer for the next few weeks.
This post is part of the “Pray Deep” series. For more information on the series, click HERE for an overview and links to other posts in the series.