Does prayer work?

Unquestionably prayer works. No doubt. Absolutely!

Well….most of the time. Maybe sometimes it doesn’t.

I guess it depends on what you’re praying for.

The answer really is: yes, prayer works, but not all the time.

I believe that God hears prayers but decides which ones to pay attention to, which to answer, when to answer and always how to answer.

Many times I have found my prayers answered, but the answer wasn’t what I thought it would be, and it certainly wasn’t when I wanted it.

And many times, the answer is: “No.” Sometimes its, “Not now, maybe later”; sometimes its, “No, not never gonna happen.” And sometimes I just don’t know whether or not I will ever get an answer.

But that is no excuse for not continuing to pray.

Maybe the best thing about prayer is praying without receiving an answer. Why?- because it strengthens our trust and our faith. Sometimes we need to make our faith happen instead of having God verify it. What I mean is simply this: faith is described as believing in something that can’t be proven.  In Hebrews 11:1 faith is described this way:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

That means, to me, that whether or not my prayers are answered, it is the act of praying that demonstrates my faith, and whether or not my prayer is answered, my continuing to pray strengthens my faith.

As silly as that sounds, it is what faith is all about: believing when there is no logical reason to believe.

The world tells us that if you can’t touch, see or smell it, it isn’t really there. The world will believe in prayer if the prayer comes true every time, and you get exactly what you prayed for.

That’s why the world will never believe, because that isn’t how prayer works.

God wants us to be faithful, but what we really are is fickle; if we get three prayers answered in a row, and the fourth isn’t, we stop believing. There’s just no “brand loyalty” left in the world.

In Luke 18:1-8 Yeshua (Jesus) tells the parable about the widow and the unrighteous judge. She pestered and bothered and nudged the judge so much that he finally gave her justice just to be rid of her. Now, God doesn’t answer prayer just to get rid of you, which is a good thing, but He does expect that we continue to ask in the face of rejection.

Why? If He is a loving God and Father who wants only the best for His children, why make us go through that?

The answer: I don’t know! I would guess, from what I read and my personal experience, that God is testing us to make sure we are truly faithful and not just trying to get a free lunch. For all I know, every single prayer I have ever made may be answered in the resurrection. Of course, some of the prayers I have made on earth will not make any sense, or have any value, after I am resurrected, but who knows what that is like?

When I was just beginning to know the Lord, when I wasn’t sure about who Jesus is (at that time I had no idea His real name is Yeshua) and I wasn’t even sure about God, I remembered hearing that if you smile, especially when you are sad, you will feel better. I thought, “Maybe if I pray to God as if I really did believe, it would help me to believe?”

Looking back now, knowing what I know and having experienced what I have experienced, I am amazed that I was so wise. Doing what a faithful person does DOES help make you faithful! When I prayed I felt better, even just thinking that there was a loving, omnipotent, omnipresent Spirit that wanted only the best for me and was listening to me. And the fact that this Spirit was able to do whatever I asked, well- that was just icing on the cake.

Eventually, praying as if He was there became knowing He is there. And praying to Him did result in receiving answers, even though many times I didn’t recognize those answers as being answers. Sometimes the answer to prayer is so well camouflaged we can’t see it until we suddenly take a different view of the past. Then we realize, “Hey- ya know what? That was the rabbit!” (you need to love Bugs Bunny to get that reference.)

So, keep praying, no matter what. Whether or not your prayer is answered, whether or not that answer is “Yes”, “No”, or “Fuggedaboutit!”, just keep praying. Prayer strengthens faith, and faith is how we are saved, so it really doesn’t matter that much if your prayers are answered or not.

The real reward of praying comes from continuing to pray.

Why I say “God has no religion.”

It’s the “Tag Line” of my ministry, it’s the voice in the desert trying to make straight the path men have perverted, and it’s the truth.

God gave us the Torah, that is, He gave the Jewish people the Torah but not as their sole property. It was given to them to bring to the world. It is the history of a family that became a nation, of a people that were enslaved and freed, of rebellion and atonement; it is also a document that acts as a Ketuba (marriage certificate), a constitution, a penal code and a warning. It provides life eternal, and eternal suffering.

It is, in it’s most simplistic definition, the rules for how people are to worship God, and how they are to treat each other.

Yeshua (Jesus) said the two most important commandments are to love the Lord and love each other. That pretty much sums up what the Torah is all about.

Mankind, with it’s need to interpret, to control, to reject what is hard and create something from nothing, is why there are so many different religions. And instead of loving each other and being compassionate, as the Torah teaches, we have slaughtered each other in the name of Jesus. Or in the name of God (I am referring to persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel. That’s right! Today in God’s Holy Land, Jews killing and persecuting other Jews in God’s name.)

And let’s not forget how many have been killed in the name of Allah (although Allah isn’t a Judeo-Christian deity, but we might as well throw him into the pile just to make sure I don’t miss insulting someone.)

The foundation stone of my tag line is found in Yesheyahu (Isaiah) 29:13, where he is prophesying about the city of Jerusalem:

My Lord said, “Because that people has approached with it’s mouth and honored me with its lips, but has kept its heart far from Me, and its worship of Me has been a commandment of men, learned by rote- truly, I shall further baffle that people with bafflement upon bafflement; and the wisdom of its wise shall fail, and the prudence of its prudent shall vanish.

This came true in the ancient land of Israel; Jerusalem was lost to the Jewish people, and today… Praise God! It is being restored to them.

But there are so many others out there who are not Jewish but are doing exactly what the Jewish people did that Yesheyahu warned them about: they are following the canon of Men instead of the Word of God.

If you haven’t gotten my book yet, please do so. It isn’t expensive, it is an easy read, and it shows you how in many cases the Word of God has been ignored and, worse than that, sometimes just plain rejected by men so that they can worship the way they want to.

If you are a Gentile or a Jew, did you know that what you are following is as much man-made as God-commanded? Maybe even more so of men than of God.

Catholicism is following what Constantine originated; Lutherans and Protestants are following Luther, Methodists follow John Wesley, and there are 6 different forms of Judaism! You would have thought that at least the Jews would have stayed on track!

We follow men more often than God. And don’t think I am leaving out my own people- today the Orthodox and Chasidic Jews will go to the Talmud before they go to the Torah, and the Rabbi is as influential, if not more so, than the teachings in the Tanakh; Jews will ask the Rabbi to interpret Torah and take what he says as gospel (hmmmm….am I allowed to use the word “gospel” when talking about Jews? I mean, it’s just a word but it does have such a “Christian” connotation, doesn’t it?)

Now, there is nothing wrong at all with asking your religious/spiritual leader for an interpretation of the bible:  what is wrong (in my opinion) is not verifying it by reading the passages and asking God to guide you. In fact, you should start in the bible, ask God to guide your understanding through His Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and then ask your Rabbi, or Priest, Pastor, Minister, whatever for clarification.

God gave us a plain and understandable commandment: love Him and treat each other as you would want them to treat you. Simple. In Deuteronomy 30:11-14 Moses tells us just how simple it is:

 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

The Word is very near- but we don’t read that word, do we? We go far from the word to ask someone else to tell us what it means. Religion is something that men created so that they could control other men. What other reason could there be for a person to ignore what the Lord God, Almighty has said to do and, instead, tell others what he or she thinks they should do? Is a human more knowledgeable than God? Can a human do what God has done? Can a human understand the mind of God?

Get your bible, turn to Genesis 1:1 and read a chapter. Then tomorrow morning pick it up and read another chapter. That’s all you have to do- one chapter a day, every day. Let the Ruach lead your understanding, and try to use extra-biblical writings as little as possible. Trust in God to lead your understanding because, well, He did write it and He knows what He wanted to say.

There is a message in that book for you. Yes- you, the person reading this right now. Don’t look around: I mean Y-O-U. God has a plan for you, a mission for you, a need for you and a reward for you that is greater than anything you could ever have on earth.

The map to that reward is in the bible- the entire bible, which starts in Genesis and ends with Revelations.

Go find your reward!