As a child, I often heard the saying, “Prayer is not the least you can do, but the most you can do.” I thought that any situation could be solved with earnest prayer. When my dad told nine-year-old me that our family friend Jim was diagnosed with cancer, I decided that I was going to pray really hard for him to get better. Jim had a wife and three children in elementary school—surely God wouldn’t be so cruel as to remove him from so many people who were depending on him. Every day, I set aside 10 minutes to pray for Jim. At first, there were encouraging signs that my prayers were being heard. The tumor was getting smaller, and he was feeling stronger. My prayers were working!
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?”1
I love this prayer because it expresses a need for God on a primal level, like a deer searching for water. Thirst is an involuntary reaction, and a need that requires fulfillment.
Over the years that I have dedicated to Christian service, I’ve had the benefit of receiving very good input in how to maintain a vibrant prayer life—not all of which I have followed consistently, unfortunately. As a young Christian, the book Streams That Never Run Dry1 had a profound effect on my view of prayer. Even though I didn’t feel very talented in many areas of my life, I saw that I could pray. It’s one form of Christian service that’s open to anyone—no specialized training required! Two quotes I read that deeply inspired my prayer life are: “A praying life is never a wasted life,” and “Prayer is the beginning of every miracle.”
Prayer shows your faith in Me—faith that I will bring the solutions, show you the way, work in people’s lives, and even do the impossible when necessary. It also shows that you are depending on Me, and this pleases Me greatly.
The ringing of my phone interrupted my quiet evening drive. It was a close friend on the other end, “Marie, I need you to pray for me!” She only had a few minutes to talk, just enough time to tell me about the very stressful things going on in her life, and I assured her that I would pray for her. After she hung up, I prayed for her out loud for the rest of my drive.
When you want to target your prayers in order to bring about the best results, try to shut everything else out of your mind. You can do this anywhere, anytime, even in a crowded public place—a busy airport, while riding on the bus or train, anywhere you happen to be. Just stop for a few moments, close your eyes, and concentrate on Me, and I’ll help you to focus your thoughts enough to target your prayers.
Have you ever wondered why it seems that some prayers aren’t answered? Have you even ever, like me, wondered why it seems that it’s your prayers, specifically, that aren’t answered?
Having been a believer all my life, I’ve prayed for many, many things, and I’ve also often experienced the disappointment of my prayers not being answered—at least, not in the way that I’d expected or hoped.