My prayers will not change the world. Read that again, because it is important to come to grips with certain realities, and with certain half-truths. My. Prayers. Will. Not. Change. The. World. BUT…
My prayers WILL be heard and answered.
My prayers WILL reach the throne of Heaven.
My prayers WILL make a difference!
We have a great tendency to think in extremes. And the subject of prayer is no exception. Either our prayers seem powerful or they seem empty. But we live in a world of limitations, a world of boundaries. I can do small things– things that make a small difference. I can help a neighbor. I can give out of my abundance. I can exert whatever power or influence I might have. I can write or speak in an effort to persuade.
But I can’t move mountains. I can’t fix a broken soul. I can’t end wars or stop famines or control the wind and waves. And my prayers cannot FORCE God to bend to MY will; to act as I see fit, or in My timing. It is not my actions or my wishes or my words– even in prayer– that will ever change the world.
Sometimes, others will see this as failure. They will say that prayer is ineffective, or weak, or no more than wishful thinking. They see it as an abdication of power– asking God to do something instead of taking action. And that kind of faulty thinking can take root and cause me to stop praying as fervently or as faithfully as I once did. It might make me doubt God’s goodness or His willingness to hear me, or to bless others. Worse, I may see His blessing of others as a slight to my own prayers and pains. I may see my prayers as a waste of time, and I may place more value on striving and struggling and fighting over the power of Faith and Obedience.
The truth is that God is the only one who has both the power and the wisdom to save the world– and us– from all the problems we see around us. And the other truth is that HE is the one who invites us to pray as an act of communion with Him IN all his power, wisdom, mercy and love. Our “small” prayers are tied to a Great and Mighty God!
My prayer will not CAUSE God to change circumstances, but it WILL involve me in the process of change– it will allow me to confirm and acknowledge God’s work as it unfolds.
My prayer may not result in immediate change of my circumstances or in the face of great disasters. But it will result in a change in ME. And it will result in changes I can’t even begin to imagine– changes that may unfold over generations; changes that may multiply ten-thousand-fold! Prayer will put me in a place where God can more easily mold me and shape my character to endure and thrive and even ACT in ways that make a positive and lasting difference.
Even prayers of worship and thanksgiving, that may seem to go in only one direction– we have no idea how God uses such prayers to pour out His greatness and worthiness on those of us who are unworthy. God’s ways are mysterious and unpredictable– but they lead to unexpected miracles and unmerited blessings.
Keep praying in the face of doubt. Keep praying in the face of exhaustion and pain. Keep praying in the face of persecution and misunderstanding. God is listening. God is at work. And others are watching and listening, too. Your prayers may be the inspiration to someone else who is struggling. Your prayers may be the seed that is being planted in the very person who is persecuting you. Your praise may be the fuel that will start a fire elsewhere in the world!