Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely do believe prayer is powerful and effective. It can change the course of history. Earth is still spinning 24 hours behind where it should be based on the creation timeline—ever since Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still.
Prayer works, but I have personally prayed for many things that never happened, for blessings that never materialized, healing that took forever and sometimes never came.
It makes me think of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus and good friends of Jesus. Their brother fell sick; they knew he was dying. How they must have frantically scribbled the note; no time for casual comments: “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
But Jesus didn’t come in time.
It’s a fabulous story—one of perfect love, death, miracles, passion, sorrow and elation. But that’s a familiar story. I’m searching for a reason to pray, a way to pray, because, even if I take comfort in the fact that Jesus seemed to ignore Mary and Martha too (it’s not just me) ultimately, He not only responded to their call of distress but performed a miracle for them. What did they do right?
For years my most persistent prayer was, “Lord, please heal me of this eating disorder! Take it away! I love you God, I love you with all my heart. I want to be obedient. Help me to put this idol behind me and to live for you alone. Help me Jesus!”
Now, there’s nothing ultimately wrong with that prayer, but I heard a pastor say recently, “Nothing moves the hand of God like the love of God.”
What drove Jesus to respond to the sisters was not their love for Him, but His love for Lazarus!
It’s a false belief (but common assumption) that if we love God more, if we convince Him that we are completely “sold out”, He will capitulate and favor our request.
God does not bend His ear to earth because we are radically devoted to Him. God bends low to hear us because of His love for us, his unwarranted, unprecedented, deadly, life-giving love.
Psalm 25:6-7 says, “Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.”
God’s love is so unbounded that it overrode my theological errors. Although I often pleaded for healing based on my love for and promised commitment to God, He reached out and healed me for the sake of His Son, Jesus, whose radical love cost Him His life in order to reconcile the whole world to its Creator.
Even those of us who love God, only know love because He loved us first. If the answers to our prayers hinges on the veracity of our love for God, we are doomed. Thanks be to God, that we can pray a prayer so powerful it raises the dead: “Lord, I am the one you love!”
Does Prayer Work? video resource
The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story, book by: Abby Kelly
The Real Answer in Eating Disorder Treatment, by: Jena Morrow