Have you ever found yourself asking the question, “Do my prayers even make a difference?”
We typically pray the hardest when things are the worst. When we’re in particularly difficult circumstances, we begin to cry out to God. We’ve just lost a job. Our marriage is struggling. One of our parents is seriously ill. We’re struggling through loneliness. Our adult children have walked away from the Lord.
When God doesn’t immediately provide an answer, we pray harder. We ask our friends to pray. We invite our church to pray.
When God still doesn’t provide an answer, discouragement begins to seep in, and the question lingers in the back of our minds, “Do my prayers matter?”
Scripture answers our question with a resounding “yes!” For reasons that we can’t always understand, God says that our prayers do matter, and we should continue to pray—especially as we endure difficult circumstances.
We continue to pray because Jesus is our advocate
Hebrews 4:14 says that Jesus is our Great High Priest. He is our advocate. He speaks to God the Father on our behalf. This means that our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears. He asks us to approach the throne with confidence, knowing that he hears our prayers and that we’ll find help during our time of need.
Because Jesus is our advocate, we should be encouraged to pray and lean on him on a regular basis. We constantly have access to the Creator of the universe, to the One who has the compassion to hear us and the power to move in any and every situation. Why wouldn’t we communicate with him on a regular basis?
How do we live it out? Making prayer a regular habit can be as simple as praying for five minutes during your daily commute. It could look like praying with your children or with your spouse before bed. You might keep a small prayer journal in your car or in your desk to jot down prayer requests throughout the day. Pick at least one way to make prayer a part of your day, and you’ll find yourself more deeply connected with God.
We continue to pray because we know God is good
Hebrews goes on to explain that our Great High Priest is able to empathize with us in our weakness—he’s been in our shoes. He faced every temptation known to man, and he was still without sin. The character of our God is matchless and flawless. He is faithful, true, all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent. When we face difficult times, we can pray to God and know that above all, he is God and he is good.
God likens himself to an earthly father giving gifts to his children. He says in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Throughout the Bible, our Heavenly Father promises to invade our lives for our good and for his glory, if we will trust in him. The more we trust God’s goodness, the more we’ll lean on him in prayer.
How do we live it out? Although learning to trust God is a lifelong endeavor, there are certainly steps we can take to grow in our trust of the Lord and thereby grow our prayer lives. Explore the depths of God’s Word, and you’ll begin to marvel at the goodness of God. As you read the Bible, savor the aspects of God’s character that are revealed. Create a list of God’s promises, and begin to pray those promises for yourself and for those around you. Keep a written record of your prayers, and take time to look back at how God has answered your requests.
God may not answer our prayers right away, but he always hears them. He may not always change our circumstances, but he will always do what is best for us. We continue to pray because Jesus is our advocate. Because he intercedes for us, we should go to him in prayer regularly. We can also persevere in prayer knowing that God is good and that his promises are true. May you go to him in prayer this week, and may your prayers extend to the needs of the next generation.