Do you ever wonder if anything is happening when you pray? You pray for rain, but it doesn’t rain. You pray for healing, but healing doesn’t come. You pray for the salvation of a family member or friend, but they continue to be unresponsive. So what’s happening? What should you do?
We live in an impatient society. We have fast-food restaurants, high-speed internet, and on-demand movies. We are not conditioned to wait for much of anything and unfortunately, this affects our prayer life.
Jesus, in Luke 18:1-8, tells a parable to the effect that they [Jesus’ disciples] ought always to pray and not lose heart. The parable concerns a widow and an unjust judge. Though the widow continually pleaded for justice against her adversary, the judge would not grant it. But though he refused, he afterward said to himself: Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. Jesus then asks his disciples: Here what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?
When we pray and nothing appears to happen, what do we usually do? Do we continue in prayer? Consider the words of George Mueller found in his diary:
I am now in 1864, waiting upon God for certain blessings, for which I have daily besought Him for 19 years and 6 months, without one days intermission.
Can you imagine praying for over 19 years for certain requests?
When we pray and the heavens do not part and the heavenly hosts fail to descend slaying evil and bringing revival to the land, do not think that your praying is ineffective. We must remember that God is at work though we cannot always see when, where, or how.
Though it might seem as though our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, the truth is that cataclysmic activity is taking place (see Rev. 8:1-5). James writes that the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16). When we pray, the things that can transpire are beyond estimation.
Don’t neglect the amazing influence you have in the world for good through prayer. By prayer God calls us to join him in shaping history. By prayer we are to influence the wills of professors and writers and entertainers and editors and pastors and elders and missionaries. By prayer, we are to influence the wills of presidents and kings and senators and governors and mayors (1 Tim. 2:1). By prayer we are to influence the wills of our friends and enemies. We are to influence the wills of our children by prayer and our husbands and wives and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and neighbors and colleagues and fellow students. The amount of transforming good you can do by prayer is incalculable.
Once again, we must not think that nothing happens when we pray. Did not Jesus tell us to ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7)? The trouble for us is our preconceived ideas regarding the method and the timing of God’s answering. Therefore, we must trust God.
Remember Job? Everything had been taken away from him, including his health. Job, as most of us would, wanted to know why. What was God’s response? He asked Job to trust Him. God’s purposes were bigger than Job could understand at the moment (Job 38:1-42:6). So Job, after seeing the grandeur of God, eventually trusts and submits to His sovereignty. (Job 42:1-6).
If you ever wonder whether anything is happening when you pray, you are not alone. There have been many throughout history who have questioned whether God was listening to them. Yet throughout those times, God was present. So therefore, the days you have doubts about whether prayer really does anything, remember the greatness of God, persevere in prayer, and trust that He is working.