“Prayer: Does it Make any Difference?”

by Philip Yancey
Study with Anne Griffith, Founder, The Enlighten Foundation

Chapter 16: Unanswered Prayer: Whose Fault?

“Unanswered prayer poses an especially serious threat to the faith of trusting children.” p. 216

We’ve all been through it. Unanswered prayer. In many ways unanswered prayer becomes its own answer. In other words, the Lord is telling us that regardless of whatever situation we are experiencing, just stay the course, stay focused and stay faithful.

But this is not easy. If we have daily relationships that are constant sources of challenge and concern, unanswered prayer almost becomes a thorn in our side. The same holds true for sickness or financial woes. They are constantly put before our daily lives so that we can look at the Lord for guidance and seek a different perspective and direction; one that honors the Lord. Again, this isn’t easy. If you’re like me, my first reaction is to fight the direction, then resent the direction and finally acquiesce and accept the direction. Often, it is then that things lighten up for me.

The question is, why don’t I just accept the new direction to begin with?

  • 1. Do you believe in the power of prayer? Why or why not?

  • 2. Do you believe God answers prayer? If so, give an example.

Philip writes, “Somehow we must offer our prayers with a humility that conveys gratitude without triumphalism, and compassion with manipulation, always respecting the mystery surrounding prayer.” p. 221.

  • 1. Do you find yourself begging the Lord for something? Do you see yourself lecturing God about your issues? Has that worked for you?

  • 2. How important is it that you settle yourself, pull yourself together and talk honestly to the Lord about the issue(s) you are facing?

“They must place their faith in a God who has yet to fulfill the promise that good will overcome evil, that God’s good purposes will, in the end, prevail. To cling to that belief may represent the ultimate rationalization or the ultimate act of faith.” p. 231

  • 1. Have you seen a blessing from unanswered prayer? Maybe even years later?

Chapter 17: Unanswered Prayer: Living with the Mystery

“The more we know God, the more we know God’s will, the more likely our prayers will align with that will.” p. 235

  • 1. In the Lord’s prayer Jesus says, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” How does knowing God more and aligning with God’s will help us to pray to God?

“…one who works in close partnership with God grows in the ability to discern what God wants to accomplish on earth and prays accordingly.” p. 236

  • 1. Have you thought that perhaps your prayer is a part of a larger picture? A greater plan God has in mind? How does that make a difference in our praying?

“God acts slowly.” p. 237

  • 1. We sometimes hear the adage, “The wheels of justice grind slowly.” Philip reminds us that God can also act slowly. While we think that can be a bad thing for us, what is it teaching us?

“God has chosen to express love and grace in the world through those of us who embody Christ.” p. 244

  • 1. We are ambassadors of the Lord, we are his “human agents” for others on this earth. p. 242 And we’re here to learn about the love, hope and freedom the Lord gives us. How is prayer an essential tool to understand our role on earth?

  • 2. Why does waiting for God’s direction bring calm and peace rather than anxiety?

Chapter 18: Prayer and Physical Healing

“To the astonishment of medical researchers, one study after another indicated that even anonymous prayers organized for an experiment have an effect.” p. 251

  • 1. Do you believe religious people live longer and healthier lives?

  • 2. We know that how we think and feel affects our lives. How does a sense of gratitude calm our heart?

  • 3. Dr. Brand states that, “Those who pray for the sick and suffering should first praise God for the remarkable agents of healing designed into the body, and then ask that God’s special grace give the suffering person the ability to use those resources to their fullest advantage.

  • a. Do you feel like you have special healing agents designed to heal the ills of your body?

  • b. Do you feel like your ability to pray for someone to heal actually allows them to heal?

  • 4. What if we are not healed? If we face chronic pain, addiction, sickness. Do you feel like the Lord has left you behind?

  • 5. What if those we love are faced with chronic illness? Do you feel the Lord is taking his time to help you with this burden?

  • “God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over in our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” p. 266

If you have a prayer that you would like our Enlighten Foundation Prayer Walkers to know about, please email us at Prayer@enlightenfoundation.org

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