I have had several conversations with different people over the last month or so about the concept of prayer. One of the conversations was with an individual who respectfully stated that he saw no need for it and thought that Christians were wasting their time engaging in it. He pointed to several individuals close to him who prayed for something but did not get the answer they desired. He therefore drew the conclusion that God does not answer prayers. I disagree and believe that such a conclusion is born out of a wrong understanding of the purpose and the concept of prayer. Prayer is not a means where we drop off a laundry list with God of things that He must do for us. No. Although the Bible does say in Philippians chapter 4 that “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God” it does not promise that we will have our requests and our wish list fulfilled. Prayer is a means whereby we come boldly before the throne of grace “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” And when we go to God’s throne we accept whatever mercy, grace and help God bestows upon us.
It helps me to think of prayer like this. God is a mountain and prayer is a life line; it’s a big strong rope that we make into a lasso. And we swing that rope and we lasso the top of that mountain. Now we are connected and we put our hands together and pull on that rope, and we pray, and we pull. And we invite other people to pull on that rope with us! And when we pull on that rope, it doesn’t pull the mountain closer to us, it pulls us closer to the mountain! The more I pull, the longer I stay at it, the more people I invite to pull with me, the closer I get to the mountain. See, prayer helps me draw near to God. And when I am closer to God I have a better chance of seeing and understanding how He is working in my life so that I can line myself up with His will.
At the same time, prayer pulls me closer to His comfort, closer to His mercy, closer to His grace during my time of need. And it is true sometimes He does answer my prayers, my requests and my supplications EXACTLY as I have asked. That does happen sometimes. Sometimes it does not. But what happens EVERY time is that God gives me His comfort! What happens EVERY time is that He gives me His grace! What happens EVERY time is that God embraces His child who draws near to Him in their moments of need. As Paul says in Philippians chapter 4, when I make my requests known to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I am blessed with a peace that passes all understanding. God always answers prayer. He may not give me what I want, but He shall always supply me with what I need.