I struggled with understanding the effectiveness of prayer for so many years. So, this isn’t your standard “power of prayer” devotional. I am not trying to provide the “ten steps to more effective prayers,” like God is a genie that pops out of a lamp. I want to discuss what it means to pray, why we pray, how I know I am talking to the God of the universe, and what kind of effects my prayer life has on my brain, body, and soul. Along our journey I will share some cornerstone bible verses on the power of prayer that I keep close to my heart. We aren’t here to tell you how to pray, that is a special relationship you have with God. But our goal is to change the way you see and feel your own prayers.
At the end of the day, prayer is all about faith and telling God what is on your heart. It’s when we stop trying to see with our eyes that we witness an amazing spiritual world. That world is alive and active all around us.
Effectiveness of prayer, do they even work?
When I was nine years old, I remember kneeling one night and praying so hard for something (I’ll reveal that “something” in a minute). As a child I didn’t fully understand what my prayer life meant. But I had faith that God would grant me anything if I just begged hard enough. I prayed and pleaded with God quietly and out loud. I remember feeling so passionate about my request. With tear-filled eyes, I made my case before God that this one ask was the last, I would ever request.
Nearly 31 years later, I am confident God didn’t grant me my prayer. But why? What was I praying for that God wouldn’t grant me even though I was so passionate? Nine-year-old me was praying for superpowers! Embarrassing to admit now, but I literally asked God to give me superpowers. Perhaps He did stamp my prayer with a seal of approval. It was around that time I became interested in photography. Maybe God made me “Shutterman,” and I haven’t realized it yet!
But seriously, of course it wasn’t an effective prayer session. How was my prayer glorifying God? Was I asking for something in line with God’s plans for me? I guess it depends if He really wanted me to take on the role of Shutterman, right? The problem with the effectiveness of my prayer life was that I saw prayer as a way to ask for things. I didn’t pray consistently. Nor did I share my day with God in prayer like I would with a mother or father. I saw God as my genie in a bottle. Thank God that has changed, even though superpowers would be awesome!
That leads me to the next truth about prayer and the question that everyone asks. If God knows what is going to happen, does He even grant prayers? This question of predestination is really a question of faith. Let’s diver further into the theology.
Determinism or Fatalism– Power of Prayer Devotional
The theology behind this question is an argument between determinism and fatalism. Both fatalists and determinists believe that God is the ultimate decision-maker and decides how every story will end. However, fatalists believe that our actions and decisions do not have any influence on God’s plan. Determinism says that God has the power to determine the outcome and the means for which it will happen. Think of determinism as a type of ‘butterfly effect.” So, before we even existed, God knew the decisions we would make with our freewill and the effect it would have on everything around us. Let’s apply this to a real-world example to better understand the effectiveness of prayer.
Example of Determinism– Power of Prayer Devotional
Let’s say Tammy was just told by her Oncologist that her cancer is terminal, and she has three months to live. But Tammy believes in God’s healing power and asks her family and church to pray for a miracle, which they do day and night. At her next appointment the doctor is amazed that the cancer has significantly decreased, says it is a miracle and he has never seen anything like it! He immediately begins chemo which eradicates the rest of the cancer until Tammy is given a clean bill of health and is cancer free.
Determinism would say that God already knew that He was going to heal Tammy. However, God also knew that Tammy would be healed because of the countless prayers that Tammy would receive and the faith of those praying for her. Once Tammy finds out that she is cancer free, all those people who prayed for her praise God for answering their prayer and tell several non-believers around them of this miracle. Those non-believers know Tammy and can’t explain this miraculous recovery and go to church in search for answers. Even the doctor begins asking himself questions about his faith and attends church in search of something more than science. God turned these prayers into a miracle that would save Tammy, be a confirmation of faith for the believers around her and be a spark for non-believers to come to Christ.
The Butterfly Effect – Power of Prayer Devotional
The effectiveness of prayer is infinitely multi-dimensional; God can use one event as a “butterfly effect” to shape countless lives around the world. It’s true, God knew if Tammy was going to be healed or not, but He also knew that fellow Christians would freely pray and have faith in that healing. God could have just healed Tammy without the prayers from others, but how many came to Christ after witnessing this miracle? If Tammy loves these people the way Christ commands us to love, I am sure she would do it all over the exact same way.
No Matter the Theory, the Lesson is to Never Underestimate God
Our problem as humans is that it’s hard to understand that we have freewill even though God knows what we will choose. It is our own way of limiting God so that we can understand Him better. But whether we understand Him or not, He is still God and He is still limitless. Let’s face the facts, we will never see the edge of our infinite universe and we will never fully understand God’s power.
Feel like your prayers are unanswered? First, we can rule out about half of our prayers being answered if you understand God’s character. If we pray out of selfishness, hate, spite, jealousy, etc. God will not grant us our request. If our request is against God’s love, wisdom, kindness, gentleness, compassion, grace, mercy, glory, goodness, etc. He will not grant it. So, if you want to pray for things that could actually “get approved” consider God’s plan, the love of others, selflessness, and God’s ultimate character; then it has a fighting chance. Just ask Moses and the story from Exodus 32 as Moses descended with the ten commandments to witness the Israelites worshiping golden calf idols.
Moses Prays to Save the Israelites- Effectiveness of Prayer
Now did Moses’ prayer change God’s mind? Honestly, that would be outside of God’s omnipotent nature. The real question is, “would God have destroyed the Israelites if Moses had not prayed? Absolutely, God’s character is to do as He says. If determinism is true, however, that means God knew He would not destroy the future nation of Israel because He already knew Moses would pray to save them. Perhaps it was a lesson for Moses? We don’t know God’s intention, but we do know that Moses’ prayer is what saved the Israelites. Just because God knew He would pray does not make His prayer any less important. Even knowing the future, perhaps prayer is a way God can show us that He is active in our lives. There’s a lot we can learn about the power of prayer from these Bible verses.
Effectiveness of Prayer- Parental relationship
Since prayer is about more than just your Christmas wish list, let’s talk about the relationship building aspect. Have you ever just sat down in a quiet place and talked to God? Have you dedicated time that you could be doing a million other things but decided to put God first? Here’s a question that hits home. How many friendships do you have that are strong and vibrant, yet you never talk to each other. Maybe like a Facebook friend that you accepted then never said another word to each other. Do you consider that person a close friend that you would trust your deepest secrets to? Would they go out of their way and drop everything for you if you needed them?
If you want to hear God’s voice, to help you through your walk-in life, and comfort you in times of hardship, you have to put in the time to build that relationship. Your world changes as you grow closer to Him. It’s not something you can explain to someone. It’s a feeling of peace you receive as He is invited deeper and deeper into your soul.
Power and Effects of Prayer on the Brain and Body
We couldn’t talk about the holistic power of prayer if we didn’t also touch on the scientifically proven personal benefits seen over countless observations and studies. So, we know that prayer purifies our soul through a closer walk with our Heavenly Father. It also accomplishes the Will of God through determinism. And now I am telling you it has healing power on the body and mind? Almost sounds like the effectiveness of prayer is as unlimited as God, right? Exactly!
In fact, even science driven articles similar to those found on Healthline.com cannot deny the power of prayer. From sited research, they explain how prayer and church fellowship show signs of a longer life expectancy, reduced stress, better immune functions, lower blood pressure, even reducing pain after c-sections!
What about Yoga and Meditation? Power of Prayer Devotional
To be fair, the article above also points out that some of the health benefits from prayer are also benefits seen, to some extent, in meditation and yoga. And I believe there is some limited truth to that. It is also true that there are medications that lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and relieve pain. But even meditation cannot boast the multi-dimensional benefits of prayer. And neither can meditation or yoga.
Things like meditation involve a prayer-like state of mind that can have positive results on your body and mind. But how can we explain prayer and its healing effect on others? That’s not a result you hear about meditation or yoga, is it? Not to mention the fact that prayer brings you closer to God. You begin feeling His peace, witnessing His grace, and receiving His comfort when we bring our problems before the Lord. Why? Because prayer is of God and things like yoga and meditation are man-made. Things of God are infinite, but man’s creations will always have limits.
How to Tap into the Power of Prayer- Devotional
Now we know the effectiveness of our prayer life, let’s explore the part where we harness this amazing power. The big secret to prayer really isn’t a secret at all. It’s all about consistency. It’s about rewiring your brain to turn to prayer instead of turning to stress and anxiety when the worry creeps into your life. Ironically, this is the same technique used by many therapists today! Only prayer has been around since the beginning of time, so it’s nothing new.
Basically, your brain creates neural pathways to the frontal cortex that allows you to make faster decisions and reactions. Think of these pathways as a type of “road” that links your memories to the part of your brain that reasons and makes decisions. Let’s say the first time you had to get in front of a crowd and speak, you got nervous. That reaction built a small “gravel road” that will make it a little easier to get anxious the next time you talk in public.
In this case, you can decide to take some deep breaths and try to handle it a little better or you can turn to that little “gravel road” you built and stress out. If you get stressed out, now you “paved” that “gravel road” making it even easier to get stressed out the next time. Your brain is learning that this is a stressful event and to react with anxiety instead of learning to get more comfortable.
Deepening Anxiety and the Power of Prayer
Have a phobia of public speaking? That’s because you created a seven-lane highway over time and now you can’t think about public speaking without getting stressed. Once these are built, they are very difficult to reroute. But prayer is an amazing thing that can help create a new bypass. So, when you feel the anxiety coming, turn to prayer and give your anxiety to God. Trust that He will see you through a stressful event and you will begin to rewire your brain to turn to prayer instead of stress. Today, psychology calls it a coping mechanism, but the Bible calls it faith.
The Unlimited Power of Prayer
We can prove the positive effects of prayer on the brain and body. However, the spiritual part requires a step of faith. We live in a sinful world and horrible things will always happen. God can intervene on our behalf, but it must be part of His greater plan. Sometimes God can make amazing things come from the worst events. At the end of the day, we are not on this Earth to enjoy Earthly pleasures. It’s about keeping our eyes on God and finding peace in prayer. Prayer can get us through anything we are going through, even horrible events, for which, we cannot see a purpose.
But through the blessings and the tragedies, we have a direct line to God to confide in. Prayer is not about a series of words in order. It’s about saying what you mean and believing what you pray. God is the only one you can tell anything to, especially since He already knows. No matter what, it’s about consistency. Building that relationship with our Father, so that we grow closer to Him. Invite Him into your life and give Him the situations you cannot change.
The Final Truth of this “Power of Prayer” Devotional
Find comfort and companionship in prayer. Speak to God anytime you need to talk, and you will discover that He grants clarity, confidence, and peace freely. At that point you know, even if your prayer is unanswered, God hears your heart, and you are His. Amen!
Need more Prayer inspiration? Check out our section dedicated to quotes and captions dedicated to prayer supported with our own photography!
Want more? Read our next article where we demystify the Last Supper and why it is important to you.
Written by Jon and Kathleen Frederick with Seven11, authors of “Immersion” and creators of Faith-Inspired Photography