We pray because prayer works! James writes: "The effectual prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (5:16). If God never listened, or if God never answered our prayers "Yes," then why pray? There would be no motive to pray. We would say, "it just doesn't do any good." But we know better. All of us can be thankful for the numerous prayers answered in our lives. Prayer works! God is moved by the prayers of His people.
I wrote in the March issue of Biblical Insights about meeting someone whose business was struggling and they needed to sell some equipment to survive. They asked me to pray that someone would buy their used equipment and thus save their business fom impending financial disaster.
It gives rise to this important question. What are we expecting from our prayers? The simple answer would be, "We are expecting God to answer them." Thus, we pray in faith that He will respond.
Sometimes, however, I feel that some look at prayer as the "magical fix all" to our problems. We make a mess of our marriage and then in desperation pray about our home and think God will now make it right. We mess up our health by poor eating habits and a lack of exercise and then lay in a hospital bed praying for our health to return. We think the church will grow just because "we have prayed for that."
It seems that in all of this, we are expecting God to right all the wrongs, fix all the mistakes, and make everything fine simply because we have prayed about it. Now this is not questioning the power of God but it is essential that we understand our roles and responsibilities and our need to work with Him.
We Find Ourselves In A Mess Financially: -- because we spend instead of saving. It will take more than words to right the wrongs of unwise decisions.
We Find Ourselves In A Troubled Marriage: -- because of gossiping, nagging, dishonesty, and negativity. A change of hearts and a renewed dedication are essential to turning that relationship around. God will not "fix it" without the cooperation of those "in it."
We Find Ourselves In A Stagnant Church: -- because of indifferance. Such a church cannot grow by the members merely saying a prayer and then waiting with arms folded for something to happen. Obviously, God expects cooperation from us.
Whether financial or familial, are we to expect that all one has to do to fix the mess is pray and everything will be fine? Absoluetly not! There are consequences to our choices and responsibilities that rest upon our shoulders. God will do His part but... we must do ours!
By Roger Shouse, via. Words Of Life, Vol. 15, No. 1, Jan - Mar, 2008
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