Can We Ever Fully Understand Prayer?

Even after all these years of following the Lord I will admit that prayer is still a mystery to me. Maybe you’ve got it all figured out, but I confess that I don’t. There are times when I pray for something important, and I don’t see any results as far as I can tell. On other occasions my requests are of a more superficial nature, and the answer is clear and even supernatural. I sometimes pray for hours, days, or years, and I’m still waiting for God to act. Then I pray for something once, and barely for a minute at that, and God’s reply comes barreling down, knocking me off my feet. What’s up with that?

I’ve been recently reminded of an incident that happened several years ago. In the grand scheme of things, it was pretty minor, but was nonetheless evidence that God answers prayer in even more detail than we ask for. One day the electricity in most of the outlets in my apartment suddenly stopped working. This went on for over a week, and for various reasons no one could help me. Not knowing where to turn I started praying that God would send me a good electrician. In all honesty I had in mind a scenario where the Lord would lead me to the right person, but God took my words quite literally.

The following Monday morning there was a knock at my door. When I opened it, guess who was standing there in front of me? Yes, that’s right, an electrician! What’s more, he even had with him all the necessary tools… and a ladder! He wanted me to unlock the door to the garbage chute, but once I recovered from my shock I asked him if he could check out my problem. He did, and the issue was repaired. He even went to buy the necessary part.

Some may argue that it was pure coincidence, but I don’t believe so. There were any number of other apartments he could have knocked at, or I could have been out. If he hadn’t had a ladder with him he wouldn’t have been able to help, as the fuse box was located just below the ceiling. All the circumstances combined together to provide one clear example of answered prayer.

Frankly, I don’t think that prayer being a mystery is a bad thing. Why do I say so? Because prayer is based on our relationship with God, and healthy relationships are not to be controlled nor manipulated, neither are they completely predictable. If I understood everything there is to know about prayer, then that means I understand everything about the Lord. But how can a human mind fully comprehend the divine?

The many encouragements in the Bible to pray and not give up are a clear sign to me that God recognizes our confusion and doubt on the matter. It’s ok not to have it all figured out. But as the Apostle Paul writes, let’s pray in all circumstances, assured that God hears us, and let’s never give up.

Picture: Carol Schlorff

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