Day 1-Does prayer make a difference?
"When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." -Revelation 5:8
I have great admiration for people with a consistent, focused prayer life. In my mind, in my heart, in my new year's resolutions I make plans to be excellent at praying. I set apart the time, I set apart the space, I make a list sometimes and I'll be honest-the only prayer I pray consistently is HELP ME! Usually after some roller coaster I agreed to get on myself which has turned out to be especially stressful!
I've had really wonderful seasons of prayer in my walk with the Lord. In college I spent lots of time as a peer advocate praying with people which I loved. I've met weekly with people in different seasons that have kept me on my spiritual toes and greatly increased my prayer life. And I suppose to be fair I probably pray more than I think I do particularly lately for several people in my life. In the shower, in the car, running out the door, late at night, etc. Sometimes I'm sure my prayers have been signed, sealed, delivered to the heart of the Father and other times I'm certain they went nowhere. Which I think begs the question-does prayer make a difference?
If God is sovereign (and He is) then he already knows the outcome of our lives and thus the outcome of our prayers. So are we wasting our time sending pleas to the Heavens when the verdict has already been rendered? Should we just pray that God's will be done all the time and leave it at that?
I love the above verse in Revelation. If we could see in those golden bowls! Can you imagine the heartache, tears, praise, petitions, joy, sorrow, and love swirled around in a beautiful offering before the Lord? It's my thought that if they're important enough to keep them, they're important enough to offer them.
I'm not a theologian. I don't know specifically how concrete the will of the Lord is. My greatest fear in all the world is missing His will for my life which I do feel is possible. In the Old Testament particularly saints seemed to have changed his mind about destroying his creation a few times! But just in my own life, in my own relationship with the Lord, in my own thoughts I tend to think prayer is of great value to me and pleasing to the Lord.
How many times have you just had enough? How many times have you sat before the Lord just furious that things have not worked out as you'd hoped and the answers did not come as you believed and you are angry-only a few moments later to find yourself telling the Lord you're sorry for your lack of faith and you don't ever want to do anything to hurt him? Prayer changes us on the inside.
How many times have you prayed specifically for healing for someone believing it would happen on Earth only to realize in Heaven they are healed forever? Prayer changes our perspective.
How many times have you begged the Lord on behalf of the prodigals in your life to bring them gently back to His heart only to watch them be dragged literally through Hell? Some return to Him and some do not often without the predictability we desire. Prayer increases our trust in a loving Father.
How many times have you offered your day to the Lord at it's onset and found that you have sufficient time, a pleasing disposition, accomplishments and peace with the wind at your back? Prayer increases the desire to offer our lives as a living offering.
How many times have you approached the throne of grace feeling so unworthy, so undeserving of one more chance, so heartbroken by your own choices or those of another to the point that there are no words to speak? And as the tears fall into a heavenly bottle and His Spirit gently whispers "I am with you always," we realize prayer strengthens our relationship with a God who cares.
I don't know that the plan God laid out before the foundation of the world is in any way altered by the prayers my heart entrusts to the Father, but I do know without a shadow of a doubt that I am changed. When the answer is yes I rejoice with Him. When the answer is no I mourn with Him and am reminded that He has my best interest at heart. And when the answer is wait I have an all out hissy fit! I mean, I'm so happy He's postponed my knowing for the greater good of His will in my life-ahem. No matter the answer though, my trust is restored in Him. I am changed into his likeness with every confession. I am connected to his body with every prayer offered up on their behalf. My faith is strengthened with every answered prayer. And my relationship with the Lord grows stronger every time we share a piece of this puzzle together.
Jesus is not physically here so the only means we have to communicate with the trinity is through prayer. I have to say the best prayer times in my life have been when I've felt particularly burdened to pray specifically for something. It's like you can see the trinity in full circle. The Holy Spirit lays something on your heart, in obedience you offer it to Jesus who whispers it into the ear of the Father who answers our pleas. Love. It. And I think those situations would happen more often if we would stay in tune with the heart of the Father for our own lives, for the lives of those around us, for His body, and for the world at large.
So does prayer make a difference? yes.