Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.

Does Prayer Work?

Sometimes I find myself asking if God really hears me when I pray. I have moments when I am asking and praying but things aren’t happening. I have been frustrated, angry, sad and even depressed by what I am not seeing. It can be disappointing when you feel like you are crying out and you hear nothing back. Yes, I have moments when I doubt. It feels like my prayers aren’t working.

When I get away from those moments and let my emotions cool, I can see that I need to define what “work” means and also what prayer is.

When I take look at prayer in the scriptures I see that it is a way to communicate with God. There are a lot of prayers in the scriptures, from a lot of different people. The Psalms especially have a lot of prayers in them and although a lot of the prayers do include requests I see many instances where they are communicating an overwhelming emotion – joy, gratefulness, sadness, grief, anger. It is all throughout the book of Psalms and the scriptures. In fact, even Jesus prays to God for something in one of his most agonizing moments in Luke 22:39-46…

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (NIV).

Right before Jesus was executed on the cross he cried out in prayer. He knew the plan. He knew what he was there to do and what he had to do. But he still prayed. He still cried out and asked the seemingly impossible, and was denied. Why? What was the point? Jesus was sharing that moment with the Father. He was sharing the intense emotion he was feeling and God strengthened him. Jesus still went to the cross, his mission was completed and because of him we now can have salvation.

So did Jesus’ prayer work? It didn’t get him the outcome that he wanted in that moment but yes, it worked because God heard him. Jesus knew that expressing where he was in that moment was important, even if what he was asking wasn’t going to happen.

That is my desire for you and I. That we would change our definition of what it means for prayer to work. That we would follow Jesus’ example and pray from a place of complete authenticity, holding nothing back. We don’t always see the outcome that we want but we don’t see all that God sees and we don’t know all that he knows. We need to trust God and believe that our prayer works.

-Pastor Jason Tokarchuk