It was the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson who wrote: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” And he was right.
But does God answer prayer? I think the best answer to that comes from William Temple, a former Archbishop of Canterbury. He said: “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t pray, they don’t.” He was right too.
Many people who wouldn’t call themselves very religious nevertheless pray at times and I want to encourage you to do that – for your own good.
Why is it a good thing to pray? Well, here are a few reasons:
Because God knows best about our lives
God’s wisdom and knowledge are infinite. He knows the end from the beginning. So to pray about the significant decisions we have to take makes a lot of sense.
Because God wants the best for us
God is love and he wants the very best for us, which is another very good reason to pray that he will help us make wise decisions and do the right thing.
Because we want the best for our loved ones.
Someone said: “Rich is the person who has a praying friend.” We all want the best for our partners or for our children or grandchildren, and all those who matter to us. Praying for God’s blessing on them is therefore a sensible and caring thing to do.
Because prayer is a good antidote to anxiety
It is amazing how telling God about our fears and anxieties can make us feel more relaxed. It’s good to know that God is there with us, and interested in our concerns. “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
Because prayer helps relationships
The old saying is that “the family that prays together stays together.” That is important in view of the breakdown of family life today, with all the pain it causes. Even if you don’t want to pray out loud with family members, at least you can pray for God’s blessing – and sometimes healing – on your relationships.
However the most important reason for praying is:
Because God wants to hear from you
You see, God is love and he loves you so much that, like any good parent he wants to hear from his children.
But does God always answer prayer? I believe he always answers but sometimes we have to wait for the answer and on occasions the answer seems to be “No,” which is difficult. But certainly there is a huge amount of evidence that often prayers are answered in the affirmative, which is why it is sensible to pray rather than to give up.
On a bigger scale, someone has said: “The more praying there is in the world, the better the world will be; the mightier the forces against evil.”
Of course, if you are going to pray, it is good to thank God when he answers prayers. In fact it is good to “count your blessings” and to thank God for them. It is respectful to God and encouraging to you. And what better than to come along to church from time to time to pray and to thank God alongside others.
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction