Does prayer and faith really change things?

I was thinking about the passage Luke 18:1-8 which is the parable of the persistent widow.

1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3 There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people, 5 yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! 7 Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? 8 I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

This made me want to ask the question if prayer really does anything at all. I know we may not get the answer we want but because of that should we pray? I know most will say yes, but I find it difficult talking to God and not knowing what the answer will be and yet having faith.

I mean I pray for protection all the time and in the back of my mind I do wonder “what if God doesn’t want to do that”. I’ll be honest it terrifies me to think it, but when you hear of all these tragedies happening you can see why I might question it so much.

How do we reconcile death/suffering with having faith and staying consistent with prayer even though what we pray for may not be what God decides to do? Maybe this parable is more so speaking about the justice to come in the day of the Lord. If so then my question is why should we continue to pray if God is only going to do what he decides is best anyway?

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@Luna. Doesn’t the fact that GOD knows what is best for us, makes what He degrees what we really need? I understand why we want certain things. And I don’t think GOD minds one bit that we ask. We are allowed to ask. And He is faithful to rain on the just as well as the unjust.

But in the Garden of Gethsemane JESUS asked fervently and with great anguish to be spared the cross. He certainly possessed the ability to call for His own deliverance. But His prayer led Him to the conclusion: “Not my will but thine be done.”

I think answered prayers always occur. But we tend to lean towards an elementary perspective of what the answer should be. Basically, our will must be GOD’s will or the prayer was not answered.

When I pray I won’t fashion my prayers to say. “Lord don’t let the effect of living in a sinful world touch me. It will touch others but I declare and degree it will not touch me!” Or I never pray, “Lord send the financial blessing that will allow me to pay this bill although I went shopping for an outfit. Or cause someone to be moved to give me what I am praying for although they must sacrifice for my benefit!” I don’t consciously pray that way, but because my physical comfort is at stake, it takes precedence over even considering what is best for me or others.

I think its human to want to know the answer before it comes. But that, of course, means faith is not an issue. Faith never comes into focus when you already know the outcome. What is, even more, a challenge is when the answer to prayer is not what you specified.

But when it seems contrary then I must decide, “do I trust GOD?” Though it is not what I wanted is GOD yet faithful, is GOD yet just; can I trust His will for my life? I think when I reach the place where the will of GOD is paramount above my desire, I discover my wants and needs have been met. Maybe not as I intended but certainly accomplished. Just as CHRIST found on the backside of the crucifix. He rose with all power in His hand.

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@Luna I think your question really strikes at the heart of both faith and the purpose of prayer. What is faith? Why do we pray? My understanding of this issue could be summarized this way: Prayer is not chiefly about changing God’s mind or about protection from suffering. Prayer is chiefly about God changing us and God doing His Kingdom work through us. Below are some additional thoughts and related threads :slight_smile:

Faith Looks to the Unseen

Hebrews 11 is a great example of those who prayed in faith and yet did not see the fullness of what they prayed for… They lived their entire lives for God’s Kingdom without seeing it come to fruition. As Christians, we also live in an already but not yet reality. Christ has already conquered death, and yet we still die until His return. Christ has already conquered the power of sin, and yet we still must crucify our flesh daily. Christ has already given us an inheritance in Heaven, and yet we still wait to receive the fullness of that inheritance.

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Romans 8:23-25 - Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

John 16:33 -“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

ACTS

If we recall the acrostic ACTS - prayer consists of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Even if God did not change His mind when we prayed we should still adore Him through worship, give thanks and confess our sins. The only one that would be confusing would be supplication. But prayer has many purposes beyond simply asking God for things - it is fundamentally an act of worship.

Other Resources

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Luna, based upon my personal experience I echo what Sean says. Praying continues to change me.
Stay blessed
BILL

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