So, how exactly DOES prayer work, anyway?

I was asked this week to answer the following question:

Share your beliefs and uncertainties concerning intercessory prayer.

My response: Ah, that is a good one.  I have heard many viewpoints on it. The first one that comes to mind is that it’s best to pray your heart out and accompany always with the phrase “your will be done,” thereby being sure to pray what’s most important.

But this brings into question what God’s “will” is.  Is it pre-determined?  I tend to think so, though some may disagree.  I believe God does know the future.  Still, it seems that there is more to intercessory prayer than just “another reason to connect with God.”  That is part of it, but I also believe that prayer can and does change the outcome of events.  I tend to view prayer as a command first, a connection second, and all the other purposes and effects after that.  But the interesting thing is that many or most of us will spend 75-90% of our prayer time interceding for someone or some situation, so we functionally believe that it’s having some kind of effect.

But when I do intercede in prayer, I must admit that I do feel at times as though it’s a “shot in the dark,” questioning whether my one prayer could ever change the course of history in some situation or someone’s life.  I want to say I believe that it could or will.

I almost get caught up in viewing intercessory prayer like elections and voting sometimes.  If God is going to move in situation X, he’ll need to have at least “Y” number of votes, or nothing real is going to happen.  But then you factor in all of us Christians who “say” we’ll pray for someone and never do, then sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one praying for a given situation.

So those would be some of my beliefs and uncertainties about intercessory prayer. What about you?


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