Obviously prayer didn’t make a difference in that case, but prayer is nevertheless a powerful weapon. James 5:16 says, “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Powerful and effective. Sounds great, but maybe we’re not righteous enough to pray effectively like that, right? We need to remember that according to Philippians 3:8-9 we have a righteousness that comes from God through faith. Through faith we have the very righteousness of Jesus Christ as the basis of our prayers! That’s all the righteousness we will ever need. God hears our prayers not because we are so good, but because we have the righteousness of Jesus in his eyes!
How do we reconcile our prayers with God’s sovereignty? We don’t. I do not know how those two powerful forces work together. There are some things that are above our pay grade when we deal with an infinite, Almighty God. There is going to be some mystery about him for finite minds. In ways we do not comprehend God uses our prayers to accomplish his will in this world. So we must pray.
Some prayers will be answered “no.” Even Jesus experienced that when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that the cup of crucifixion might pass from his hands. Like he did we must always pray, “Not my will, but yours, Father.” But as we pray in submission to the Father we are unleashing an unstoppable force. What power in all of creation can stand against the Almighty God? There is no such power.
Does God really answer prayer? I recently looked through my prayer journal for the past nearly two years. Of the specific requests that could have a verifiable answer, 77% have been answered “yes” by God, 22% are still waiting for an answer, and only 1% of them have been answered “no.” It is almost startling to see how God has fulfilled his promise to answer prayers. Yes, God answers prayer and it makes a difference in this world.
1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” We can have a bigger impact in this world by praying than by anything else that we do! So let’s “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22) and ask God to do great things in this world!