Does the title surprise you? It’s true. The simple act of prayer does not work. The mere saying of the words that constitute a prayer will get you a grand total of nothing. You may believe in “the power of prayer,” but that belief is misplaced.
Even beyond that, if I pray to my cat for a stronger marriage, at best I’ll get a blank stare. (Probably I’ll just be ignored.) If I pray to my friend for a new job, it won’t work. If I pray to my desk for peace and joy, same result.
So what’s the point of praying? Simple: Prayer doesn’t work, but the God who hears them does.
What matters is the One we pray to. The power is not in the prayer, it’s in God. The power is not in the words, it’s in the Word. When I pray, the one I’m talking to had better have the power, ability, and desire to hear me and respond (not necessarily with a “yes” but in the way that’s best for me). Otherwise, there’s no point.
If you pray but the object of your prayers has no power, then you’re still on your own. If there’s no one listening at all, it’s futile, saying words only you will hear.
As I write this, my mom is in the hospital. She’s been there for almost two weeks now, dealing with several problems. She’s in the Critical Care Unit right now, heavily sedated (she had been more alert and aware, but she was trying to bite the ventilator tube so they had to re-sedate her). She’s got a touch of pneumonia (at least) and a staph infection, both of which they need to get under control so they can do a heart catheterization procedure. My dad and my aunt are with her; meanwhile I’m 1,800 miles away. At the time it’s released, I’m in Branson, MO with my family, because there is a very good chance she’s not going to get better.
This is already not easy, but if I wasn’t absolutely convinced (not blindly but based on experience and sound evidence) that there is a God, that He loves me, that He hears my prayers, and that He is able to answer my prayers, I would be a basket-case right now. I love my friends and family, and I appreciate their love and support, but honestly, if that’s all I had, that’s just not enough. Effectively, they are just another version of me—good intentioned, desiring to help, but ultimately mostly powerless. I need Him.
So do you. Whatever struggles and challenges you may be facing or will face, you don’t need prayer, you need Him. Prayer by itself is nothing. The words themselves have no power, and they can’t connect you to a source of power and love bigger than yourself, outside yourself. But you are a child of God. Your identity in Him—your Supernatural Kingdom Identity—is one who has been chosen by God, loved and adopted into His family. And as a result, you have an incredibly loving Father who does hear and answer.
So what you have is more than prayer, more than just empty words. It is prayer to God, through Jesus Christ. In that case, prayer is just the way you talk to God and tell Him what’s on your heart. It’s how you learn to be in His presence—and from that time with Him comes the peace, love, comfort, compassion, grace, mercy, wisdom or whatever else you need.
Prayer doesn’t work, but the God who answers them does.
Question: When you prayer, who is the object of your prayer—the one you are praying to? Does it matter to you, or is the act itself enough? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.