Why Prayer Works

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of my favorite texts of Scripture comes from the Book of Revelation. The Apostle John beholds an incredible vision.

He writes:

Revelation 8:1-5-1 When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.

As John watches, the prayers of the saints (both in Paradise and on Earth) ascend before the Lord.

What is the result of this?

There are great changes upon the Earth-“noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”

Furthermore, we are told that as a result of the prayers of the saints, God’s angels prepare to intervene (Revelation 8:6).  

Have you ever stopped and wondered why prayer works in the first place? I mean, why do we need to pray in order for God to work?

He obviously does not “need” us (Psalm 139); so why is there such a powerful connection in the Bible between prayer and God’s intervention?

One author, Dutch Sheets, has provided some powerful and intriguing material on this topic.

He writes:

“If God is going to do something regardless of whether or not we pray, then He doesn’t need us to ask, and we don’t need to waste our time. Right? We’ve got enough to do. If it’s all que sera, sera (whatever will be, will be), then why not take a siesta and just let it all happen? If, on the other hand, John Wesley was correct when he said, “God does nothing on the earth save in answer to believing prayer,” then I’ll lose a little sleep for that. I’ll change my lifestyle for that. I’ll turn the TV off, set my cell phone on mute, ignore the IMs, and even miss a meal or two. So the real question is this: Does a sovereign, all-powerful God need our involvement or not? Is prayer really necessary? If so, why?….The answer to why prayer is necessary lies in God’s original plan when He created Adam. The word “Adam” means “man; human being.”‘…In Psalm 8:6, the original Hebrew word used for “rule” is mashal. It indicates that Adam was God’s manager here, God’s steward or governor. Adam was God’s mediator, go-between or representative. Psalm 115:16 confirms this: “The heaven … the Eternal holds himself, the earth He has assigned to men” (Moffatt, emphasis added). God didn’t give away ownership of the earth, but He did assign the responsibility of governing it to humanity…The definition of the Hebrew word kabowd that’s translated “glory” literally means “heavy or weighty” !6 It’s linked to the concept of authority. We still use the picture today when we refer to someone who “carries a lot of weight.” Adam carried God’s weight on the earth…Think about that. If the earth remained a paradise, it would be because of humankind. If things became messed up, it would be because of humankind. If the serpent ever gained control, it would be because of humankind. Humanity really was in charge!…What’s the point of all this? Check this out: God assigned so much authority over the earth to Adam that he, not just God, had the ability to give it away!….And that’s why prayer is necessary. God chose, from the time of the Creation, to work on the earth through humans, not independent of them. He always has and always will, even at the cost of becoming one. Though God is sovereign and all-powerful, powerful, Scripture clearly tells us that He limited Himself in order to work through human beings. That’s one of the major points of the entire Bible. Does God really need us? Yes and no. Because He’s God, He’s already complete (Acts 17:24-25). He doesn’t lack a thing (Job 41:11; Ps. 50:10-12). But because of His desire to be in an authentic relationship with us, He’s chosen to limit Himself by working through us.” (Dutch Sheet, Getting In God’s Face: How Prayer Really Works, 15-20 (Kindle Edition); Ventura, California; Regal Books)

God-in His omnipotence-could simply do as He wishes, regardless of man’s freewill. Yet because of His omnibenevolence-His perfectly good and moral Nature-He will respect man’s freedom. This is why prayer is necessary, and why it works.

When God’s people get on their knees and seek God’s intervention, we are inviting Him (as the representatives of Earth, endued with the authority of Adam, but especially as the representatives of the Second Adam) to work.

While we pray in harmony with His will (1 John 5:14-15), we trust in His Work and Providence in our lives (Romans 8:28).

While we yield control to Him (Luke 6:46; Romans 6:3-12), we invite the Spirit that works in us beyond what we can ask or think to intervene (Ephesians 3:20).

Prayer is one of the great privileges of the child of God (Philippians 4:6-7). Are you a child of God? The Lord Jesus Christ came to this world to give you an opportunity to become one.

Through His atoning death, burial, and Resurrection three days later (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), we can be saved (Romans 1:16). Believers (John 8:24) are invited to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).

Why not today accept God’s gracious invitation?

If you are a child of God who has not been living faithfully to the Lord, why not today repent and pray to the Lord and be forgiven (Acts 8:22; 19:18; 1 John 1:9)?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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