How should we pray for one another? What does the fervent, effectual prayer of man or woman really mean? (James 5:16) When a good prayer (in our opinion) doesn't yield a good answer (in our opinion), does that mean prayer through us is ineffective? No, I'm not a Bible scholar - I just spend a lot of time reading the Bible, but here is my take on prayer.  I think it starts with accepting the truth that God is sovereign. Since I have grown to believe that more and more with each passing crazy circumstance in my life, prayer has begun to make a lot more sense. First:                                   Prayer is for our benefit – not  God's!  God already knows what our needs and wants are. He sees the beginning from the end so He knows we need a job, we are having health issues, relationship problems, or are in danger of some loss. So why pray if He already knows our needs? Because it builds our trust in Him – that He will deliver us. But He will answer us in a way that serves His purposes which includes our growth spiritually – sometimes materially or physically – and the growth of others in our lives who are watching to see what God will do and what we will do.  We teach our children through repetition. It is a scientifically proven fact that children need repetition so that certain connectors in the brain eventually fuse and they finally grasp some skill or truth. We are not talking about deliberate disobedience; we are talking about learning to tie shoes, brush teeth, make beds, and repeatedly introduce God to them as the real deal. If  we develop the habit of praying over everything, we will  eventually look for His answers in Scripture and even in our daily lives. Our faith develops and we tend not to miss what He is teaching us. Not a person of faith you say? Not true. You sit at a red light every day and have faith that it will eventually turn green so you can go.  We all have faith in something. I prefer faith in God over man. I’m not disappointed nearly as much!! Second:                          Prayer is not just a laundry list of requests; it's much deeper!  I will continue to pray for jobs, healing in bodies and in minds. But I’m learning to pray for something beyond those requests. Because I do believe that God knows best, that He has a plan and I don’t have His crystal ball, I don’t know if my request will be granted just the way I have asked. I’ve lived long enough that I have either experienced or observed that He will sometimes allow difficulties to enter into our lives. Sometimes He allows His child to get turned down for a needed job, there is a delayed healing or even increased conflict in a relationship. He's after something in that individual that you and I can’t see because we don’t have His crystal ball.  Sometimes we even get angry with God over unmet needs. Some of us become so distraught that we give up on prayer all together for awhile. That decision is not His will; it is yours. He did give us the freedom to accept or reject Him.   I'm beginning to ask Him to surround my friends with godly support - with people who trust that God is sovereign. I pray that my friends will go into job interviews having prayed over everything and then walk out knowing that God is ultimately in control. I ask for patience during the healing process; for the strength to approach a painful time and diagnosis knowing that God is in control. I ask that the joy of knowing that the Lord is in control truly become the strength that my friends need in order to repair a marriage, battle some illness or to persevere in looking for a job. I want them to be aware that they are never alone – not for one second.!  I’m learning to accept - not as often as I’d like - that all outcomes are God's responsibility. The journey is mine, but the good and the not so good things that I meet along the way are allowed by a God who wants me to be the woman He created me to be. I fully intend to live out this life look forward to one day hearing Jesus say, "Welcome home good and faithful servant!"  By the way, I just have to add this. Not every trial is from the devil! I know there are some who believe that. The devil's motives are always to kill and destroy. Now, think about your past hardships. Aren't you stronger today because of them?  Do you really think he would bring hardship into your life that could potentially strengthen your relationship with the King of kings?  Not! I believe there are three sources for trials: 
  1. The devil. He  does bring havoc in hopes of drawing us away from God.
  2. Sometimes we suffer the consequences of our own actions.
  3. Always! God allows both of the above for our own good; never, ever to hurt us. 
Consider adding a few more seconds to your prayer time so you can ask for a "heart" change in yourself and in your loved ones. It's harder and takes a little more time, but it will build both character and faith in you as you ask for those same things in others. As our faith and those for whom we pray gets stronger, it brings a supernatural peace to our world - a world that is anything but peaceful today. This peace will come to each of us because we don't have the last word - God does and I find that very comforting!  
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