Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a plaque that says, “Prayer changes things” on my bedroom wall. I wonder how many hours I’ve spent lying in bed, staring at that motto.
Over the years, I’ve sometimes wondered about the effectiveness of my prayers. Sometimes it seems like long-term problems will never go away. I’m apt to tell myself, “Nothing will ever change. The situation is hopeless.” I’m sure that motto was meant to be an encouragement to people, but when there doesn’t seem to be any change in sight, it stabs me in the heart. What am I doing wrong? I ask myself. Why aren’t my prayers working? Why is the world in such a mess?
That’s when I need to remind myself that it does no good to focus on the prayers themselves. What I should be focusing on instead is my loving heavenly Father.
Perhaps the plaque should be changed to read, “God changes things!” That would put the emphasis where it belongs. It’s not my correctness in wording, or my prevailing attitude, or my trying to please God that gets my prayers answered. It’s not my strength and perseverance (or the pitiful lack thereof) that makes Him listen to me. Sure, there are many factors that enter in, but only God determines what they are. He has promised to hear and answer our prayers, but He alone decides when and where and if and how He will answer.
God changes things! He is our all-powerful, almighty Benefactor. Full of mercy and loving kindness, He is to be honored and praised. Prayer is not a magic formula that we can tap into to make things happen our way. It’s not a list of requests we make to a “butler in the sky.” Let’s make sure we keep our focus off the characteristics and logistics of our praying—and on the God of Heaven and earth who sovereignly responds. Then He will change things!
“Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:1-3).