Does Prayer Work?

A Proper Disposition

By Frater Bovious

(CARROLLTON – Cradle of Civilization) On my way home from work, listening to the radio, a lady called in with a question about prayer. She had read a book that appears to have made her feel that if she was “praying properly” she would have some tangible evidence that her prayers were heard. Yet, she had been praying fervently and receiving no feedback – and so was left with faith alone that her prayers were heard.

She didn’t say “just faith” but my sense was, while she was willing to just go on faith, she really wanted some kind of verification. This appears to have been triggered by the fact she had several losses in her life, various in-laws and such, and was trying to “cover her kids with prayer”, but nevertheless had some anxiety concerning the safety of her children.

This triggered a line of thought for me – the following is not a response to her and her situation, though it may be related. The line of thought concerns the proper disposition to prayer.

Hand Holding a Rabbit's Foot Key Chain

It’s worth considering for a moment if we have a “lucky rabbit’s foot” approach to prayer.

There is no soft way to put this: There are two basic dispositions to prayer, in my experience:

My Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done

“If I do this and such, God will grant me my wish.” “God wants me to be with him in heaven.”

Humility is the sine qua non  for answering the call to be holy. Many times it’s not that we aren’t getting an answer to our prayers, it’s that we are not getting the answer that we are listening for. God is not a lucky rabbit’s foot. He is not a talisman. There is no formula, no incantation, that will bend God to our will. But much of our prayer comes with that underlying premise: “I will bend God to my will.”

Even when we ask him to protect our children?

Even when we ask him to protect our children.

Jesus prayed a lot. Here is one:

MT 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

It’s hard to acknowledge that we are not in control, isn’t it.

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