One day, a young man received a letter from a former co-worker, someone who had retired a number of years earlier. The two workers, to put it mildly, hadn’t gotten along; the one who had left, from the start, had treated the other one badly. Anyway, the worker still there opened the letter and started to read. Among the words were the following: “You know, I don’t understand how prayer works, never did, at least intellectually. I do know, however, that we have been told to pray and over the past few weeks, as I’ve been praying, I’ve been greatly convicted about how I treated you all that time. I see that I was wrong, un-Christlike, and a horrible witness for my faith. I know I should have done this a long time ago, but I do sincerely apologize. I have to claim Christ’s forgiveness for what I have done, no matter how unworthy I am, and now I ask for your forgiveness as well.”1
In many ways, this story exemplifies the power of prayer. It’s not so much to get God to move mountains, though that can happen. Instead, it can cause something even more miraculous: it can change the human heart.
As the person wrote, prayer isn’t always easy to understand. Why ask God for something if He knows about it already? Will God not do something unless we ask for it first? Can our prayers really change what the Creator God will do?
Whether we understand how prayer works or not, one thing is certain: without it, our walk with the Lord is destined to failure.
No question, as Christians we are told to pray and to pray often. That we might not understand how prayer works is, really, beside the point. Most of us don’t fully understand how anything works, be it secular or sacred. If we waited until we fully understood all the issues regarding our faith, then it would hardly be faith, would it? The very word faith itself implies that there are elements beyond our intellectual grasp. One thing, though, that anyone who prays consistently and fervently—and according to the will of God—can testify to is that prayer can, and does, change our lives.
What is your understanding of prayer? How has it impacted your life? Where would you be in your Christian walk without prayer?