“And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he 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.’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’” [Luke 18:1-8]
Does prayer work? Does it matter?
So, I hesitate to say that prayer “works.” I’ve made this reference in a blog before, but it’s not like our prayer life is a vending machine where we press a button after inserting some change and then get what we want. Prayer is about an intimate relationship with the Father. It’s about acknowledging who He says He is. It’s about accepting His love and knowing that He has good things for you. It’s about knowing that He invites us into prayer. Your prayers matter. So whatever you hope for, whether it’s for yourself, for your friends, for your church, your city, whatever!! I invite you to pray for it.
In this parable, it says that when the widow asked and asked and asked and asked, not even an unrighteous judge can deny someone asking something continually, then can you imagine what a good, loving Father long to bestow upon His children? So, when we ask for things, yes it matters. Because if you don’t ask, I think the chances of receiving are less. So what you ask and hope and pray for matters!
And please understand that God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the ways we expect or the ways we hope. But like I said, prayer is about acknowledging who God is. He is good. So, even if a prayer seems to be unanswered or isn’t answered in the way that we expected, we have to know that God’s goodness will prevail. His goodness defines us, not the circumstance.
Why does it work this way?
Honestly, I can’t give you a perfect answer to this. But I can give you my thoughts, and I can provide some Biblical backing. First of all, God wants a relationship with you. Think about this. So, God could be a Dad who gives you gifts when you ask, but then that would be it. That would be convenient, but it would lack purpose, guidance, deep love and relationship. On the other hand, God is like this. He wants to know your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your desires. He wants to know why you think these things, your heart beat behind it all. (And I know He’s God, so He already knows these things. But we also have to think about relationship.) When we spend time with God praying and talking with Him, it builds relationship with Him, which is incredible. So in prayer, we have the opportunity to build relationship with Him. And because He is so kind and good and a great listener, He of course wants good things for us. But He more than anything wants relationship. And prayer is incredible because it brings all of that into one place.
What can/should you pray for?
Listen y’all, when I say I pray for everything, I pray for everything. If I’m in a crowded parking lot, I pray for a miraculous parking spot. If I have a little headache or a sore throat, I pray for it to go away. If my friends have a little headache or sore throat, I pray for it to go away. I pray things over my life. I pray for my friends and my community often. I pray for a release of my calling. I pray for God to give me certain Spiritual giftings. I pray for certain, very specific opportunities to arise. I pray for Wesley, UGA, the city of Athens. Truly anything and everything. Because God tells us that we are allowed to ask Him for things constantly. He gives us that permission here in this parable and in tons of other places throughout the Bible. So, I just want to encourage you. Don’t pray for something once and then give up. Pray for things constantly and without ceasing. God finds the deep cries and the roots of our hearts irresistible. So don’t give up and keep praying. Because the relationship with God is worth it. And the fruits our prayers are powerful. They become the testimony that we stand on.