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Prayer Doesn't Work
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Photo: S. Suharjoto
"Prayer doesn’t work—God does! Pass it on!"

This closing line in Debbonnaire Kovacs’ article jumped out to grab my attention and draw me into her story where she thoughtfully examines the popular slogan “Prayer Works” and comes to the conclusion that, clearly, prayer does not work.

Medical studies regarding prayer for those who are sick are typically inconclusive. Some people “felt better” because they had been prayed for, but they didn’t necessarily get well. Many still suffered severe pain. Some died.

When we say “God answered my prayer” we tend to mean “I got what I wanted.” But what about all the times our prayers are “answered” in ways we don’t like or understand? Ways in which we do not see any good?

I think God, in perfect wisdom and from the perspective of eternity, sometimes must smile at our prayers. Maybe God even laughs and says, “You’ve got to be kidding!” as we lay out our lists.

God is Too Wise

God is too wise to always give us what we, in our short-sightedness, ask for. Like a caring father with a beloved child, God consistently gives what is best for us. Which raises the question: If God knows our needs and always gives what is best, why even bother to pray?

There are certain things God has promised to give, but only when we sincerely ask for them: forgiveness of sins, a clean heart, the gift of peace in our minds that comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit (Comforter). These are spiritual blessings that God is eager to give when we ask. Perhaps prayer is not so much about changing our circumstances as it is about developing our characters.

Prayer is not some kind of magic charm, concludes Kovacs. It is just the name we have for dialogue with God. And as long as we keep communicating honestly with God we can know that God is working in our best interest, no matter how our prayers are “answered.”

"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission" (Hebrews 5:7).

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.



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