Prayer is in a way something of a mystery. How can a mere man talk to God and be heard? If you’ve read much of your Bible, read about God, and realize his greatness, his power, the fact that he would even so much as be interested in what I had to say is amazing. Not only is he interested in what I have to say, but in what all of us have to say, and the Bible leads us to believe that God is able to hear and respond personally to every one of the perhaps millions of people whose voice may be calling out to him at any hour of the day or the night. It’s staggering to consider it.
It’s very clear that God expects us to pray, that he commands us to pray. It’s also obvious that God hears our prayers, and that our prayers make a difference in what happens. I expect every one of you, at one time or another, have had an answer to prayer. The problem you have is all those prayers of which you’re not so sure. These are the ones that sometimes trouble us.
Believing in God, believing the Bible, and committing your life as you have to Jesus Christ, you would think that prayer would come naturally—that man would pray as easily as breathing. But it is not so, and I wonder if the reason for it is that we really don’t believe.
Maybe we are like the man who came to Jesus for the healing of his son; when Jesus said,
If you believe, he can be healed, and the man in desperation said,
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. I think I understand that man. I really do. For I believe in Jesus, I believe in his words, I believe in the Father and pray to him, and I believe he can answer prayer. What I need is help with my unbelief.
Jesus addressed this question fairly early on with his disciples and with the people who came to listen to him, in the most basic of Christian instructions: the Sermon on the Mount…