Pastor Rick Warren: How Does Prayer Work?

How Does Prayer Work?

Have you ever wondered if prayer really works? Maybe Satan has whispered to you, “Prayer is a waste of time. Forget it! Who do you think you are? What do you think you’re doing? God isn’t even listening.”But here’s the truth: Prayer works because God is in control.

In fact, the basis of all miracles is God’s sovereignty. What does that mean? It means he is God Almighty, who has all power in Heaven and on Earth, so his purpose and his will prevail. We learn to trust his wisdom and his goodness. We learn about his loving nature and his generous character.

And we mature in faith as we understand that God has a better view of our circumstances than we do, and that he knows what is best for us. He can see our future, and we can’t. The Bible says, “But his plans endure forever; his purposes last eternally” (Psalm 33:11 GNT).

God’s unlimited resources are available to you. Twenty times in the New Testament it says, “Ask.” Isn’t it encouraging to know that things out of our control are not out of God’s control? You may not be able to change a situation, but you can pray and God can change it.

You may be thinking, “If I can pray and ask God to change things, and if God is really in control of everything, why don’t I get everything I pray for?” Here are three reasons:

God is not a genie

Just because we pray, that doesn’t mean we get whatever we want. If every prayer were answered, we’d be spoiled brats. If you’re a parent, do you give your children everything they ask for? Probably not. As an adult, you know what’s best for them. You can see the bigger picture. If we can see the bigger picture for our kids, how much bigger is the picture that God can see for us?

Sometimes Christians pray in conflict

Sometimes Christians pray for different outcomes, even though they’re praying about the same thing. Which prayer is God going to answer? God can’t answer every prayer in the same way at the same time.

God knows what’s best, and we don’t

The Bible says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV). That’s how Jesus prayed: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42 NLT).

Prayer works. It isn’t a waste of your time. God is in control, and he wants to hear your prayers — he is listening!

PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick >>

Talk It Over

  • If you’ve ever wondered if prayer really works, how did God show you that he was listening and that prayer does work?
  • How can your prayers change, knowing that God is listening and that he will answer?
  • What does it mean to ask according to God’s will, as 1 John 5:14-15 says?

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Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Rick Warren’s study, “Experience God’s Power Through Prayer,” available here[JW1] .

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