When we pray, we are intimately connected to God, and while we ask for His help, ask for others’ frailties and quietly listen for His answers, we are one. Prayer is a complicated business. Sometimes when we think of it and talk about it, it seems it sometimes generates more questions than answers. Why? If God has already made up his mind and knows what is going to happen, why pray? Will we change God’s mind? Scripture tells us that the Lord doesn’t change.
“I the Lord do not change.”(Malachi 3:6)
God knows what will come to pass and He knows your prayer (every word) will be a part in it. So, if God cannot change His mind, it means it has never been changed, we just don’t know in advance what the end result will be. He allows us to play a part in His actions. Why?
Prayer is for us. Prayer strengthens our belief. If I ask the Lord to heal someone and it comes to pass, I acknowledge that God had a part in that. He knew before any of us were born, all the prayers we would ever pray and all the responses He would make, to arrive at the outcomes He already knows are there. So, I recognize the Lord’s intervention because my eyes were waiting to see. My faith is stronger when I know God answers prayer–if I have an event to look to in the future, if I need to examine my beliefs again, those moments where you look into the mirror and ask, “What if what I believe is not correct and I am heading down the wrong path?” Then I remind myself of the times He answered prayer in ways that left no doubt about Him and His abilities to make miracles happen.
Many times our prayers include speaking about God’s character or power, about which Scripture teaches. Does God need to be reminded that He is slow to anger and eager to save? No. But we do. This sort of prayer shores up our faith. It’s like a responsive reading in that we speak about God’s faithfulness, love, mercy, power and might and our hearts respond saying, “It is true.”
Can God rescue from calamity apart from our prayers? Of course! But if He chooses to allow us to pray for the predetermined outcome, we have a chance to witness to others about what God has done, but we should never claim credit for this. It is not our prayers that save; it’s God’s power and His grace alone.
Remember what God told the Israelites in Deuteronomy chapter 11 about the Scriptures? He told Moses that the children born after the flight from Egypt did not see the miracles of the Red Sea, manna and water from a rock and He did not want these things to be forgotten. He wanted the people to tell the stories to their children and remind themselves also.
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NIV)
So as the elders repeated the old, old story to the youngsters, they remembered too, and renewed their minds as they recounted how God brought them out of slavery.
We do good as well to remember our redemption from sin; how God brought us out of our own Egypt. Prayer changes things, but it’s not God’s mind.
When has God answered a prayer for you? How did that increase your faith?