Does prayer matter?

11 May

I received a piece of communication this week that told the story of a friend’s urgent prayer request to God. Interestingly the very thing that my friend asked God to stop from happening…ended up happening. As a result the last thing my friend said to me was, “What is the point?”

Good question. I appreciate the honesty. I have wondered this many times myself, and I have read numerous books on the subject, in addition to what God says in the Bible. There are many sub-questions to consider when attempting to answer this quandary of whether or not prayer matters.

To what degree do people have free will?
Does God plan out all the details of the future?
Is it possible that he would hear our prayer and change his mind?
We say God knows all things, so wouldn’t he already know what we’re going to pray and what the outcome will be?
In what sense are we in a relationship with God that involves the kind of give and take that prayer seems to assume?
Or is prayer just an exercise in dutiful obedience?
What other factors are involved?

There was a man in the Old Testament, Nehemiah, who seems to have a confident grasp of these matters. At Faith Church tomorrow we’re going to look at his story, trying to answer some of these questions. As you read those questions above, how do you answer them? Let’s discuss!

6 Responses to “Does prayer matter?”

  1. Sherri Patton May 11, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    Wow. That really opens up a lot of thoughts. I think it’s all about trusting God. Boy I have had a lot of unanswered prayers, it is SO hard. Man and can be SO discouraging! But from my own personal experience recently, that is where I feel that that word FAITH comes in. Thanks to my wonderful pastor and awesome church, I have learned Good or Bad to trust Gods guidance.
    Joel, thank you for sharing this. Looking forward to hearing the sermon tomorrow. Hope you have a great Saturday!
    Sincerely,
    Sherri

    • joelkime May 11, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      Thanks Sherri! Nehemiah is a great example for us. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, and especially the sermon discussion to follow. I’ll we’ll be able to dig into it!

      • Sherri Patton May 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

        Very excited as well! Wish we could participate in sermon discussion. But we have to leave right after church. Maybe you could fill me in on how discussion went.

  2. Lisa B May 11, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    This is a great subject, and I think one of the biggest misunderstandings about prayer is the idea that if we pray (put a coin in the machine) then God will answer the way we want (we get a gumball!). Ricky Gervais (do you know who I mean?), after the Boston Marathon bombing, tweeted something to this effect: “You’ve sent enough prayers, how about some blankets, food and water? Sincerely, everyone ever affected by a disaster.” So he’s an atheist and his idea is that prayer is useless. I’ve been thinking about that, how we balance faith/prayer with work/action. Dallas Willard defined prayer as “talking to God about what you and He are doing together.” So it’s not a magic trick to get God to do what you want but a conversation. Still not easy with no easy answers. Hope the sermon goes well! Looking forward to being there eventually to hear the follow up to these thought-provoking questions!!

    • joelkime May 11, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Great quotes, Lisa! The Willard quote is so pertinent given his passing this week. I think Nehemiah would agree with it. Can’t wait to have you guys a regular part of the discussion, so thanks for foreshadowing that online!!!

      • Sherri Patton May 11, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

        Wow. That brings a whole new meaning to the subject. Very enlightening! Thank you for sharing that.

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