Questions about Prayer

This whole situation with my friend Aaron and his daughter has caused me to re-examine what my take is on prayer. Before I throw out my questions I'm struggling with, I want to make it clear that Aaron, Kate, and their entire family has been on my heart and mind non-stop since I first heard the news a week ago. My current struggles have nothing to do with the way the prayers have been handled by everyone involved with Kate and everything to do with me working out my thoughts and beliefs on prayer. Now on to my questions (which I have no real answers to at this time)

- Does it really matter to God if one person prays or many? Are prayers answered solely in response to the amount of prayers being lifted to God and the multitude of intercessors? Can and is one person's prayer be just as effective as 1000? 10,000? If so then why ask for people to pray? If not then is prayer more like a popularity contest?

- Does it matter who prays? James 5:16 says, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" So does only the righteous have their prayers answered? What about the people who aren't "believers" but still feel the need and desire to lift up a prayer for someone even though they don't have a clue what or why they are doing it?

- Is focusing your thoughts and prayers on one person while ignoring the rest of the hurt and suffering just because we are connected in some way with that person the right thing to do? Don't get me wrong, I've probably prayed more for Kate then my own kids this past week, but what about every other 5 year old at any hospital that's going through the same thing? Who's praying for them? What if they don't have the deep family and friend support Kate does?

How much do what we pray for (healing, peace, etc) really effects the outcome? Jesus said to pray, "Your will be done". So why do we ask God to fulfill our will? Oswald Chambers said, "It's not so much that prayer changes things as it is prayer changes me and I change things". I'm not sure why but that has always resonated within me as seeming right. So if it is then does all of our prayers for someone else really change anything for that person? Or does by the simple act of praying for that person we are changed because we are finally in constant communion with God?

Again, this whole situation effects everyone differently. For me it has caused me to search deep for these answers. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Comments

Robert said…
I don't have this prayer thing all figured out yet either. Perhaps one reason for us to pray is so that we are reminded (we remind ourselves) that God is the only one who can make a supernatural difference in our lives.
Perhaps it helps us prepare to thank God for what he does in our lives. A sick child - man that is tough. I would pray for this child's healing. But if I pray for someone to be healed and they aren't, that doesn't mean God did not answer the prayer. Maybe I'm too human to see what he is up to and how he did answer the prayer.
I find myself more and more praying that as someone deals with a difficult situation that they will see God at work in their life. I know God IS at work in their life and I know he wants them to see that. Whether healing occurs or not, they can still see God at work.
It took me a good while to figure out that God is not a heavenly Santa Claus who doles out to good people whatever they ask for or want. God is so much greater than our experiences here on earth. We have to constantly remind ourselves that we are to pray for what God wants done. I find myself wondering what that is more than knowing what that is. Seems like by now it should have been the other way around.
Perhaps the reason for our prayers is not so much for us to affect change in other people's lives, but to affect change in our own lives. What is God up to in my life that I am missing out on? Maybe that is something I need to pray about.

Robert Dixon - Kernersville, NC

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