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Do Our Prayers Matter?

My pastor says that we act only on what we believe. So let me put it to you―do you really believe praying brings about a history that would not have otherwise happened?

Read this excerpt from 1 Corinthians 1:8-11 (the italics are my own emphasis):

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life… We trust…in Him on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.” (NASB)

You’ll notice that the prayers of the Corinthians were part of God’s rescue operation.

Likewise, Philippians 1:19 says, “For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (ESV).

We must realize that whether or not we pray matters!

One of the curses of today’s church has been apathy. Many people think that prayer doesn’t really matter, and they assume that God will do whatever he will do anyway. They think that God already has a set plan and what they say will not affect that plan.

The Bible doesn’t teach that.

Moses prayed many times that God would not destroy His people (Exodus 32, Numbers 11 and 12); Elijah prayed for life to return to a dead child (2 Kings 4); King Hezekiah prayed that God would extend his life (2 Kings 20); Peter was freed from prison while his friends were praying (Acts 12); and there are many, many more examples of the power of prayer.

We work together with God to see His will done on earth. It won’t happen without us. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we don’t pray because we are too tolerant of all the evil that is happening around us. Sometimes we feel unworthy or weak, thinking that others get prayers answered but we don’t. We wonder if there is something wrong with us and so we abandon the battle, just letting things happen the way they are going to happen.

We cannot do that!

We must hear the beating heart of God and not accept the way things are. Prayer is saying we will not tolerate things that are wrong. We must go into the battle in the name of God Almighty and ask him to alter things that are not His will. That is part of the role of a preservative. It is why Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. Acts 17:6 says that Paul and Silas turned their world upside down – and preserved it. That’s what we need to be doing, too!

Prayer is saying we will not tolerate things that are wrong. Click To Tweet

Farmers know their partnership with God: they plant and water, but God makes the seed grow. The only way to get the plant the farmer wants is for him to initiate burying seed and watering it. But God alone makes the seed grow into a plant. We can wish a plant would grow in the dirt, but nothing will happen until we act. Yet our action alone cannot grow the plant. It takes both us and God.

We are co-laborers. We work together with God to see His will done on earth; it won’t happen without us. Darkness and evil will reign instead, just as weeds will take over the garden when it is neglected. A beautiful garden will only grow with the intervention of man. If it is left to itself, it will be filled with thorns, thistles, and weeds.

Do you know how fatalism crept into the church? It came from the Greek philosophers who concluded that we have nothing to say about anything because all has been planned before we were born. They thought we were like puppets or robots. In their way of thinking, prayer is futility. If God’s will is already set, than why should we pray?

The fact is the plan of God includes our prayers. Click To Tweet

But would the miracles of Jesus have happened if He had not been asked to perform them? Mary asked Jesus to intervene when the wine ran out during a wedding feast (John 2). Bartimaeus shouted out to Jesus to cure his blindness (Mark 10). The lepers asked Jesus for healing (Luke 17). The centurion asked for healing for his servant (Matthew 8). The list goes on and on. The fact is the plan of God includes our prayers.

So pray. Pray according to the love of God and His will. God is delighted to give, and He will not withhold anything that is good for us (Psalm 84:11). “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2b RSV).

Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell is the executive pastor at Reston Bible Church in Dulles, VA. He has spoken at several MOV Conferences and serves as senior advisor to the ministry.

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