It’s funny, I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, yet some things instantly trigger memories so vivid in my mind’s eye that I see every detail of a past moment in time.
When I was a little girl and had sleepovers at my grandparents’ home, I slept on a cot in my granddad’s office. Above his desk, there was a framed photo of his last day of work, when he and several fellow workers retired from U.S. Steel. Next to it, hung this little plaque that says “Prayer Changes Things. When ye pray, Believe.”
I have no idea how it ended up in my hands after he was gone. It’s pretty tacky in terms of home décor, but I treasure it. It represents a message that my grandfather felt was important enough to look at every day himself. And now it reminds me of the power unleashed to bring about change when we pray—and specifically to keep praying. Power for situations to go from random circumstance to divinely routed.
I’ve lived long enough to know that every prayer isn’t answered as we hope, because prayer is so much more than hopes and wishes on our personal fix-it and gimme list. Just as our earthly parents had to do raising us, sometimes our Heavenly Father loves us too much to give us some of the things we want, and I’m learning to be OK with that.
There are accounts, including in my own experience, of feeling a strong urge to pray for someone not knowing why, only to find out later that person needed God’s intervention in that moment. If you think about it, the God of the universe could take care of anyone without assistance. Yet, at times, He chooses to involve another human to invoke prayer to be another witness to His ever-watchful eye, even as we sleep or go about our business. We learn to listen to the Spirit’s prompting. And we learn that praying for others is just as important as praying for ourselves.
It can feel impossible to pray. At times, I’d been so distraught and broken I couldn’t manage a coherent prayer, other than to close my eyes and whisper Jesus’ name. Guess what? He hears the deepest cries of our heart, even without words. Scripture tells us that the Spirit gives utterance and guides us in our prayers (Romans 8:26).
I’ve come to realize many additional benefits to my little plaque’s statement, such as:
- Prayer calms things
- Prayer guides things
- Prayer protects things
- Prayer heals things
- Prayer restores things
I pray that you can fill in your own powerful words in the middle of “Prayer” and whatever your “things” might be.
I’ve been challenged in conversation with someone who felt prayer “doesn’t work.” My heart ached that this person didn’t (yet) experience fully this avenue of connection to our Heavenly Father. I encouraged them to pray differently, confessing their doubts and struggles to the Savior humbly. He knows our every thought, our hurts, our past. He does great things when we surrender and break our hearts before Him. You can even pray for help with your unbelief! (Mark 9:24) Only God can transform a person who knocks timidly at His door to one who learns to go boldly before His throne in greater faith.
Prayer does change things. The greatest thing it changes is me, by increasing my faith in the One who listens.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.