Everyone asks about prayer. Am I praying right? Why aren't my prayers answered? Am I supposed to say something special? Should I be on my knees? Should I close my eyes? Does prayer work? Does prayer even matter?
I won't speak from a place of authority or all knowledge, heaven help me, I don't know what the right or perfect prayer might look or sound like but I do know prayer works. Even my stumble through the words, become speechless, big sigh prayers work so I know yours do too.
Oh I have as many stories as you do, about prayers that seemed to go unanswered. Prayers for healing and jobs and loneliness and relationships. I've prayed probably all the same prayers. I prayed as a Christian and as a non-believer (don't let anyone tell you that non-believers don't pray, I sure did just in case....) Some answers were crystal clear, other prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears. And I tried them all, on my knees, in a quiet room, with my eyes closed and with them open. I prayed while driving, cooking, watching a movie. I prayed for myself and I prayed for others.
And with all this praying I was constantly trying to figure out the right way.
As I knelt by my bed the night before I was arrested, I was down there praying that I not be arrested, that I get away with my crime and in that prayer I promised never to do what I had done ever again. Whew! I was safe, right?
Well on the other side of prayer is our Lord. He listens and He considers and in His perfect knowledge and justice and love He works in our life that which will do the most for us in His will for us. He cares for us in ways we generally don't understand or cannot see as was the case the night I prayed for His protection literally from myself! And then sometimes His care is all over a situation and cannot be denied as it was as I prayed for the care of my children and for a safe place to go after I was released.
Now as I look back on my life, and all the prayers I've said and all the promises I've made to God during my life I realize as a believer or non-believer He still cared for me and loved me so deeply. Even with my back turned from Him He still tried to reach me through His love and provision. The night on my knees He heard me. He knew what was best for me and He knew that He had the chance to work in my heart if I were to be stilled for just a short while. Looking back now I see all the ways He was constant and present in my life despite myself and I have to give the glory to Him!
Prayer is a complicated matter; it involves His will and plan for each of us, His timing which we seldom understand and so much more we cannot know. But prayer is also a simple matter involving a plea to our heavenly Father who listens and considers. It's a conversation of the heart. Its a time of Thanksgiving and gratitude. It's a time of worship and wonder. It can be a thought, an audible conversation, a song. Or it can be just a chat we have with the One who will and can do and is in constant control. It is most defintely a constant part of a life in Christ. And yes, prayer matters.