The Bible tells us that God hears the prayers of His children, and through our prayers, we commune with Him
Those who don’t know Christ may ask “Is there power in our prayers?” and “Do our prayers have an effect on God?”
The answer to both questions is absolutely yes. Even though God is omniscient and knows our prayers before we ask Him, they are necessary, have great power and can certainly have an effect on our Heavenly Father.
Consider and meditate upon the following scriptures;
James 5:16 NIV
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 1:6 NIV
6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
1 John 5:14 NIV
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
Psalm 5:3 NIV
3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
Prayer is our most powerful tool through which we commune with God. The above scriptures highlight this fact.
The verse found in 1 John 5:14 says “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
James says the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective.
The Psalmist says “I await God’s answer.”
As discussed in other lessons, God is omniscient. God is all wise and all knowing. He knows the past, present and future.
Therefore, some ask "if God already knows the future, is it necessary that we pray?"
Again, the answer is yes!
In this lesson, we will look at four examples of intercession and prayer that had a great result.
MOSES INTERCEDES ON BEHALF OF THE HEBREW PEOPLE
Let us first look to the scriptures in Exodus where Moses interceded for the Hebrew people and sought the favor of God.
Exodus 32:7-14 NIV
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
While Moses was away, the Hebrew people asked Aaron to “make us gods who will go before us.” Aaron made them an idol in the shape of a calf and the people credited the golden calf for bringing them out of Egypt. They made sacrifices to it. God was angry with this stiff-necked people. Please read the entire story in Exodus chapter 32.
In spite of God’s anger, we see where Moses interceded on behalf of the Hebrews and God relented.
Because of the omniscience of God, He knew Moses would intercede. Howewver, it still took the intercession of Moses.
Moses carried out “the will of God” through his intercession for the Hebrews.
From the perspective of Moses, his intercession changed the will of God. He was fervent and sincere in his plea to God.
However, all of this was known beforehand by God, and His will was done with His purposes and lessons accomplished.
God knew that Moses would make intercession beforehand, of his own free will and that He would relent, not bringing the disaster He had threatened.
THE PARABLE OF THE PERSISTENT WIDOW
Luke 18:1-8 NIV
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
This parable teaches and illustrates the power of not just prayer, but persistent prayer.
We should have this persistence in our prayer life, especially for the souls of our loved ones.
It may take years to see the result we want, and we may feel at times that we might as well give up.
However, we must remember and take heart that our timeline is not God’s timeline and Jesus teaches us here to be persistent and to never give up.
THE FAITH OF A CANAANITE WOMAN
Matthew 15:21-28 NIV
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Because of this woman’s persistence and great faith, Jesus granted her request, and her daughter was healed immediately.
We see the “great faith” that Jesus credits to this woman, contrasted against the “little faith” he often credits to the disciples.
In my view, God inspired these words and this lesson to illustrate the power of faith and persistence in petitioning God.
It appears in this case that Jesus changed His mind and because of the omniscience of God, He knew that He would.
HEZEKIAH’S HEARTFELT PRAYER
2 Kings 20:1-6 NIV
1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”
Here we see the story of King Hezekiah, who prayed fervently for God’s intervention and healing.
God heard Hezekiah’s heart-felt plea and granted his prayer.
THE PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS PERSON IS POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE -- James 5:16
I believe from the scriptures used in this lesson that the prayer of a righteous person can metaphorically move mountains.
Many still ask, “if God’s will be already set, then why should we pray?
I believe that God’s non-predetermined will (non-predetermined being all things not in His master plan, i.e., the cross, etc.) is accomplished many times through the faith, trust and fervent prayer of His children.
We should constantly pray for our needs and the needs of others. We should pray for healing. We should pray for healing in full surrender to God’s will, that His will be done, giving all glory and honor to Him.
We should pray for our Country.
We should pray for those who are lost, that they will be reconciled to God, through Jesus Christ.
God hears us and YES, God answers prayers. He answers by saying “yes” when it is best for us and in His will. He also answers “not now” when He wants our faith and trust to be tested and grow. Sometimes He says “no”, not wanting to change our situation, but to have our situation change us.
Consider and meditate on the fact that even our Lord Jesus prayed for intercession from God. Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup of suffering be removed from Him if possible. However, he added “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” In this case, God said no. His pre-determined will had to be accomplished on the cross of Calvary.
Jesus gave us the example of fully submitting ourselves to God, when He taught us how to pray.
In the “Lord’s Prayer”, He says “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Our prayers DO make a difference. Our prayers ARE answered by God in one of the three ways mentioned earlier.
It is vital that we pray and that we pray that God’s will be done.
The fact that God knows the future and what He will do, does not matter. It is our prayers and communion with Him that matter.
Yes, He is omniscient and knows our prayers long before we pray and ask, however, the fact that he knows the future does not change or negate the power of our prayers.
He just knows how the movie ends.