Prayer Doesn’t Work
Does the title surprise you? It’s true. The simple act of prayer does not work. The mere saying of the words that constitute a prayer will get you a grand total of nothing. You may believe in “the power of prayer,” but that belief is misplaced.
Even beyond that, if I pray to my cat for a stronger marriage, at best I’ll get a blank stare. (Probably I’ll just be ignored.) If I pray to my friend for a new job, it won’t work. If I pray to my desk for peace and joy, same result.
So what’s the point of praying? Simple: Prayer doesn’t work, but the God who hears them does.
What matters is the One we pray to. The power is not in the prayer, it’s in God. The power is not in the words, it’s in the Word. When I pray, the one I’m talking to had better have the power, ability, and desire to hear me and respond (not necessarily with a “yes” but in the way that’s best for me). Otherwise, there’s no point.
If you pray but the object of your prayers has no power, then you’re still on your own. If there’s no one listening at all, it’s futile, saying words only you will hear.
As I write this, my mom is in the hospital. She’s been there for almost two weeks now, dealing with several problems. She’s in the Critical Care Unit right now, heavily sedated (she had been more alert and aware, but she was trying to bite the ventilator tube so they had to re-sedate her). She’s got a touch of pneumonia (at least) and a staph infection, both of which they need to get under control so they can do a heart catheterization procedure. My dad and my aunt are with her; meanwhile I’m 1,800 miles away. At the time it’s released, I’m in Branson, MO with my family, because there is a very good chance she’s not going to get better.
This is already not easy, but if I wasn’t absolutely convinced (not blindly but based on experience and sound evidence) that there is a God, that He loves me, that He hears my prayers, and that He is able to answer my prayers, I would be a basket-case right now. I love my friends and family, and I appreciate their love and support, but honestly, if that’s all I had, that’s just not enough. Effectively, they are just another version of me—good intentioned, desiring to help, but ultimately mostly powerless. I need Him.
So do you. Whatever struggles and challenges you may be facing or will face, you don’t need prayer, you need Him. Prayer by itself is nothing. The words themselves have no power, and they can’t connect you to a source of power and love bigger than yourself, outside yourself. But you are a child of God. Your identity in Him—your Supernatural Kingdom Identity—is one who has been chosen by God, loved and adopted into His family. And as a result, you have an incredibly loving Father who does hear and answer.
So what you have is more than prayer, more than just empty words. It is prayer to God, through Jesus Christ. In that case, prayer is just the way you talk to God and tell Him what’s on your heart. It’s how you learn to be in His presence—and from that time with Him comes the peace, love, comfort, compassion, grace, mercy, wisdom or whatever else you need.
Prayer doesn’t work, but the God who answers them does.
Question: When you prayer, who is the object of your prayer—the one you are praying to? Does it matter to you, or is the act itself enough? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.
Randy Crane is passionate about helping Christians, especially those with a Disney affinity, to discover and connect to their GOD-GIVEN PURPOSE AND VALUE, to build their lives to achieve TRUE SUCCESS AND MEANING, and to POSITIVELY IMPACT their world. For more than two decades, Randy has been leading individuals and teams into a greater joy and child-like appreciation of the world around them, equipping them to reach beyond what they have previously experienced and build a God-given identity and purpose. Ready to experience that for yourself? Tell us where to send SIX free videos all created to help answer the 3 questions you need to experience PEACE, FREEDOM, and PURPOSE!
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I did all the things you said. Went to church baptized and the whole 9 yards. I prayed my life away, and what did I get to show for it? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada, but I can’t really say that. I did get something. It was a fear that somehow, I offended the Almighty. What did I do to deserve to not even have even the meekest and sincerest of prayers not even answered once? Nothing miraculous that couldn’t be explained as naturally plausible or by percieved coincidence. This brought on years of depression, and self medication. This was no way to live.
So years went by, and I questioned my faith more and more. The God that I was reading about in the Bible all of a sudden appeared as the invention of mortal men. This all loving, omniscient, all powerful, good, just , and merciful, eternal being did not exist in the Bible, Qu’ ran, or the Torah.The Abrahimic God of those books exhibits traits of jealosy, rage, and vengence. Hardly the qualities of this great being. I then went on a quest for knowledge. To see if my religion , my God was true, and what I was forced to come to terms with was the shock of a lifetime. I did not want to except, but I had to.
Everyrthing that was indoctrinated into me as being true beyond all doubt, was absolutely not. The bible is a walking contradiction. All evidence points towards no eye witness account in the authorship. The Gospels contradict themselves when read side by side on several key points of Jesus’ story.There is a lot more to my journey. I have always appreciated science, math, phsycology, etc., and those things have provided more answers to reality than every religion ever has. Then I realized that humanity has never gained one bit of knowledge by saying that God-did-it. That argument has always failed. Every time. This is when my depression left me. When I realized that there is no intervening sky patriarch. The gods of every holy book do not exist. Religion is a failed theory, like many others that man has discarded over history.
This is why I am an atheist. It was not a choice. The truth was more important to me than anything, and the simple fact is that religion is the Emprorer That Wears No Clothes. Faith is not evidence. It is the opposite. To me, believing in something without evidence is not a virtue. It is a trait of the gullible and fearful. The bible was written by men with no signs of divine intervention, and I have already seen the claims of fulfilled prophecies. They dont exist, hindsight 20/20, written in after the fact by future authors who knew of the outcome. I could go on, but in conclusion; its all a myth. There is no reason to believe any of it, just like Thor or Zues. I don’t believe in any of the gods, and I have no desire to harm humanity in anyway. As funny as this may sound, I have never been happier. Once you realize how small and temporary we really are, life has so much more wonder and meaning. Every moment counts, and consider yourself luckier than the richest lottery winner ever. That somehow the particles of the universe made you. We may not know or ever know how or why this universe got here, but I am reasonably certain the Gods that mankind invented from the Bronze Age had no part in it.
Mark, thank you for taking the time to share your story. I’m sorry it was so difficult and disenchanting. I respect your viewpoint, and appreciate you sharing it without attacking or being condescending. That is rare online these days.
In response to your latter statements regarding choice, faith, and lack of evidence, there are many resources I could point you to, but I would like to offer only one, should you decide to consider it: The podcast “Straight Thinking” from Reasons to Believe (http://www.reasons.org/explore/type/straight-thinking). The main premise of the podcast is that the historic Christian worldview involves knowledge and is compatible with reason. You may disagree with it, but I think you may also find it an interesting counter-perspective.
Again, thank you for your considered comment.
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