Do you ever wonder if prayer works?
Or how prayer works!
I have experience praying for many people both directly and indirectly. There have been instant healings, healings over time, and no healings. I have no human explanation for this other than I am not God and it is up to him how he answers prayer.
I do know at least two things about this. God always knows when we pray and prayers always make a difference. Prayers bring us closer to God as we talk with him and ask for his help. The people we pray for also have something spiritual happen when we pray. It may be something different from what they expect, but something happens nonetheless.
I had a vision the other morning that explains the way in which prayers matter.
I can’t recall if I saw them first or heard them first. They were about a block away. I heard distant crying and yelling.
As they got closer, I could see that it was a woman and a child. The woman was walking in front of the child and cursing and swearing at the child. The child was wailing loudly.
I prayed a quick prayer for peace for both of them and continued to a meeting. (The good Samaritan story did cross my mind.)
The woman and child were covered with soot. The fine dust-like black ash that settles on everything it gets near. As they came closer, I could see that they were completely encircled in soot. Above them was a dense, black cloud of darkness. It was so thick and dark that no light could get through.
All their pain and anger and hurt swirled around them and all they could see was the hopelessness and darkness that entrapped them. When they looked at others it was through these filters. They saw pain and expected pain. It was a sad and hopeless situation.
Then a strange thing happened. Something like drops of water fell from the sky. Wherever they hit the soot a bit of light would come through. At first it was a splotch here and a splotch there. The drops were prayers being said for them. My quick prayer was like a drop of living water.
The more prayers, the more drops of water. Prayers dissolve the soot just as a hose washes away filth and dirt. Had there been more prayers for these two, the soot would have been drenched by the living water of God. Their pain would have had a chance to escape and their hearts would be able to feel love.
We pray and we wonder. We pray and we hope. We pray and we try to believe. There are times in which the soot covering our own eyes, minds, and hearts, is so thick we cannot see clearly, think clearly, or love clearly. There are times also in which it is difficult to see past our own soot and we forget that our prayers are still effective.
We want instant relief as if God was a microwave. Yet often God dissolves the prison walls of soot slowly and deliberately. We give up praying or give up believing even as we pray.
Yet each prayer is like a droplet from God. Each prayer, no matter how small is powerful.
There are many people like this woman and child. How wonderful it would be if prayers entered their inner darkness and caused living waters to flow in their lives!
Keep seeking God. Keep asking God. Keep knocking at his door. Prayers are mighty and powerful! Jesus washes away our sins and yet we have free will. We have to accept his gifts of salvation and redemption. He has set us free from the bondage of sin, yet we must choose to follow him.
So do not grow weary of praying. Pray for people you come across in your daily lives. If I say a quick prayer for this woman and child, and someone else says a quick prayer and if every Christian they come across said a quick prayer for them, the soot will soon be washed away enough for them to see clearly.
Andy Becker is lead of Lighthouse Ministries which brings God’s love and presence to the North Central area of Regina, Canada. He is also a writer, public speaker, former counselor, and former Executive Director of a Hospice.