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Does Prayer Work?

I’ve been a Christian for almost fifty years. I’ve done a lot of praying over those years. I can’t tell you the number of people for whom I’ve prayed for all their cancer cells to miraculously die and for their health to be restored. I’ve diligently prayed for certain souls to turn to God. I’ve begged God for doors to open for a certain blessing. If I could remember every prayer I’ve prayed and calculate the number of times I got what I asked in prayer, I would have to conclude that prayer doesn’t work. Prayer isn’t given as a magical remedy to the part of life that I don’t accept. God doesn’t bid us to pray so that we can order up our wishes like we choose a snack from a vending machine. Rather prayer is about intimate connection.

The greatest prayer that was ever prayed was from the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus came there to ask God, His Father, for something very specific. He asked in great faith. He believed that God could answer His prayer. He certainly was intense in prayer, evidenced by the blood His body sweated. He didn’t give up on His request, repeating it three times. If ever there was a perfect prayer, it was this prayer. Did it work? Did Jesus’ humble, righteous request change the outcome of His life?

If you look at Jesus’ prayer in the garden from the perspective of getting what He prayed for, then you would have to label His prayer a disaster. Not only did His request get denied, ironically it was denied while He was praying. As He knelt in prayer for the third time, He saw His captors coming to arrest Him and take Him to the cross. He stood up to face exactly what He was asking God to take away.

If you look at Jesus’ prayer in the garden from the perspective of getting what He prayed for, then you have to label His prayer a disaster.
If you understand prayer as an intimate connection from a soul on earth surrounded by spiritual darkness and the God of heaven possessed by eternal light, then you could only conclude that Jesus’ prayer worked out the disconnect between heaven and earth. His prayer brought power, light, insight, and willingness into the dark events of the cross. His prayer brought down from heaven the light of salvation for hopeless and lost sinners for as long as there is time in this universe.

The prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was an explosion of God’s righteousness, light and power into the world. Was there ever a prayer more powerful than Jesus’ thrice repeated plea? Mark 14:36, He said:

Abba, Father, everything is possible for You. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.

Prayer that works every time is prayer that follows Jesus’ straightforward pattern.

  1. Intimacy—Abba, Father—He prayed. In this connotation He was acknowledging the love, care, and confidence in the One to Whom He prayed.
  2. Confidence—Everything is possible for you—He shattered any doubt that God could do what He asked.
  3. Honesty—Take this cup from me—He was brutally honest about His soul’s desire.
  4. Trust—Yet not what I will, but what you will—He knew that He could trust God’s perspective more than His own. Did Jesus’ prayer work? Let your own soul be the judge of that.


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