So often, I hear people talk about the power of prayers. This topic is talked about in so many different situations, but in every time, it makes my eyes twitch a little.
The truth is prayers are powerless. There is absolutely no power in prayer. Prayer is impotent. I know this is not the typical thing you would expect to read in a bulletin article. You’re looking for the catch, or twist, or some clever turn of phrase which will ultimately make this article say that prayers are indeed powerful; I made those bold and seemingly blasphemous statements to get your attention. There is no cleverness intended here. But let me say it again so there is no confusion. There is no power in prayer. And I mean none.
Just think about it. How many times have you said a prayer and what you prayed for didn’t happen? How many times have you felt unheard? How many times have you asked for what seemed reasonable, but it was not granted? If prayers were powerful, you wouldn’t have these moments. Every request would be granted and every want would be provided.
How many times have you sought the healing of others? How many times have you requested recovery for yourself? However, you still feel the same and others still suffer. If prayers were powerful, sickness would disappear. How many times have you prayed God would turn the heart of the unbelieving loved one to Him? How many times have you desired the baptism of your family member, friend, or coworker? They remain dry and unsaved. If prayers were truly capable of all we claim, the baptisteries would be overflowing with people instead of algae.
So if prayers are impotent, why pray? Because the God behind prayers is all-powerful! We often forget that there is personality and identity on the other side of our silent requests. We say the words, use the phrases, and repeatedly call on His name, but we forget that we are truly talking to God, the King, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Provider, the Lover of our souls. We often pray, but we don’t communicate. We say what we are supposed to say, but we don’t actually speak those things to our God. We expect Him to hear what we are barely paying attention to ourselves. This is why prayer is impotent—we aren’t actually praying!
We often pray like we are leaving a message on God’s voice mail. “God—It’s Adam. Give me something when you get a chance. Hope to hear from you soon. Bye!” No wonder it seems God is unresponsive. God wants us to talk to Him. And I mean talk, intimately, deeply, with a poured out and open heart. God desires more than our words. God demands our devotion and diligence. God hears our hearts, and often in our prayers our hearts are as mute as our mouths are noisy.
The truth is that prayers are powerless. But the God behind prayers is almighty. He is caring. He sits on a throne of grace to which we can come and bow. And if He hears our prayers, He answers.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5.14-15).