One of the questions that those who pray often ask is, “Can my prayers really move God to do something that, otherwise, He might not do?” That’s a logical question. To answer it, all we can do is go to the Word of God and see what it says.1
However much prayer changes us, and impacts our relationship with God and others, the Bible is very clear that our prayers influence what God does. We ask and He responds, one way or another.
Read Genesis 18:22–33. How do we see this principle at work here?
Again, whatever the philosophical difficulties associated with understanding this truth, God does respond to human prayers. He said that He does, and so we have to take Him at His Word.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14, NIV). What does this text teach us about prayer?
Notice, however, that God isn’t going to heal their land just because they ask. They are called to pray, but prayer is only one aspect of a general revival on their part.
Perhaps the most important example of this principle is here: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV). Here, we see a powerful link between prayer (in this case confession) and God’s action in our life. We confess our sins, and He forgives them, a process that also results in His cleansing us from our unrighteousness. The clear idea implied here is that if we don’t pray, don’t confess, we aren’t forgiven. No question, in these cases, God acts in response to our prayers.