Does prayer really work? Have you ever asked that question? Have you ever really thought about what you are asking?
When I talk to people who say, No, prayer does not work; typically they mean they prayed for something they wanted and did not get it. Seems logical, right? I mean when Jesus tells us, “ask anything in my name and it will be done” or John writes “if we know he hears us then we have what we have asked of Him.” So if this is the case, it would seem logical, we would determine whether or not prayer “works” based on the answers we receive.
But what if we have it all wrong? Looking at the context of both of these promises, we find God’s will at the center. When Jesus uses the phrase “ask anything in my name,” is centered on the context of His will. When John writes, “we know that we have what we asked of him,” the preceding verse says we can ask anything according to His will.
This thinking is so reflective of Jesus prayer life. So what we do is pray for whatever we want and tack the phrase on to the end and think, great! Got it. Is this what John is asking? Often my prayer life it is me praying for things I want to happen or things I won’t do anything about. Jesus prayers are so focused on the will of the Father.
“remain in Me,” “ask in my name,” “according to your will.”
Prayers throughout scripture seem to have the same focus. They are almost always kingdom focused. Typically, the prayers in scripture are focused more on peoples spiritual health more than their physical health. The laments seen in scripture are typically laments over the results of doing what God has called them to. There are laments over sin. There is largely this focus in prayer by God’s people about following God’s will.
So, does this mean you can’t pray for things that you want or are concerned about? Not at all but our wants and desires should not be the focus of our prayer life. Prayer is not about aligning God with our will.
Prayer is about ALIGNING our HEART with God’s will.
So prayer is a practice.
Prayer is more about LISTENING than SPEAKING.
It is more about SUBMITTING than about CONTROLING.
It is more about BEING than it is about DOING.
Prayer is a practice meant for the purpose of aligning our heart and life to the will of God. It is the practice of hearing His voice.