I’m not sure about prayer.
Does prayer work? In other words, when people pray, do things change as a result of it? This is contingent on the answer to, do I believe in God? I usually do. There are philosophical, scientific, and historical facts that don’t make sense if God didn’t exist and if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. And I do believe that many years ago I experienced a minor miracle, one the result of someone praying for me.
So I guess prayer works. I’m inclined to think so, although I have my reservations. So I think that puts me pretty much on par with the average Christian.
Do my prayers work? When I pray, does God answer me? Past experience points to a resounding “no.” I can’t remember a single prayer of mine that has been answered. I have a decade of prayers gone rejected.
I also have a decade of watching others pray week after week after week for the same people, and never seeing a change in their conditions. So yeah, color me skeptical.
I like liturgical style prayer, but I don’t know that it actually does anything. Or at least, it doesn’t do anything tangible or concrete.
But maybe I’ve simply drawn the short stick with God. When it’s all said and done, some people are going to have more prayers answered than others. Some will have many, some will have few. I may be one who has few. This doesn’t absolve me from the responsibility to pray, because heartfelt prayer is a necessary component of the Christian life. As you pray you become more aligned with the will of God, able to see what he does and doesn’t want for your life, based on how he answers or doesn’t.
You could almost make the case that if my prayers are consistently going unanswered, then I need to be praying even more, because it means I’m really off course in my understanding of what God wants for me. He won’t do what’s not in his will, and if I’m getting denied all the time then I clearly am severely out of his will.
I’m the kind that says “when I see it, I’ll believe it,” so probably don’t expect me to do a lot of praying. But I look forward to the day where I actually see it. Maybe I’ll pray for it.