Does Praying Work?

When someone we have prayed for is healed from an illness, does that mean God granted our request? On the flip side, if someone dies despite prayers we offered on his or her behalf, does that mean God answered, “No”? Maybe God is listening some of the time, and maybe he isn’t on other occasions. How can we know?

The Bible tells us that God is all-knowing, so we can be certain he hears all our prayers (Isa. 40:28; 1 John 3:20). Often, people think they know what is best in a given situation. If God doesn’t agree with them, he must be insensitive, mean, unable to help, or unaware of what is going on. Yet, God isn't required to meet our standards, nor does he need our approval or permission for anything. It’s actually the other way around.

God has his reasons for allowing what he allows, even when things don’t make sense to us. Adam and Eve thought they knew better than God in the garden of Eden. The sad result of their rebellion is humanity’s sinful state before a holy God and a world filled with misery. Yet, God didn’t leave people in their fallen condition but instead sent his own Son to save all who call on his name (Rom. 10:13). God knows far better what is best in all situations than we finite creatures could ever know, and we must accept his will in everything he permits. Thankfully, God loves us too much to give us all the things for which we ask with our limited knowledge.

In this time between Christ’s ascension and return, we make petitions to our heavenly Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 14: 15–17; Rom. 8:26). We must patiently await God’s response, always praying for his will to be done. In all this, we should never doubt God’s loving lordship over all creation, nor should we ever judge the one who will be the final judge over all.

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Le Ann Trees

Le Ann is a writer, editor, speaker, wife, and mom who enjoys the Southern California lifestyle, including flip-flops, the beach, riding electric bicycles along the 101, and an occasional salted caramel Americano from Lofty Coffee in Solana Beach. She is exceedingly grateful for both the loving kindness of many people and the sound Christian doctrine that helped her to keep on living after her son died in a skiing accident in 2006. She holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Westminster Seminary California. Le Ann is managing editor of Beautiful Christian Life.

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