Does Prayer Work

What do you say to a woman who’s lost her child? Or what about the man who, after night after night of fervent prayer, remains unemployed? What of the friend who continues to struggle with chronic illness despite all the intercessors praying for her healing? And how do we reconcile these things when we prayed with a faith strong enough to “move mountains”?

Today a friend and fellow ACFW author, Janet Sketchley, talks about this very thing. As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her debut novel, Heaven’s Prey to one lucky reader selected from the comments below.

After you read her thoughts, share yours.

Janet Sketchley headshot 350x350Does prayer work? If we believe it does, or even if we only hope it might, we’ve probably whispered “Please help them” about someone we care for, at least once.

The better we know God’s character, and the longer we’ve walked with Him, the more confidence we have in prayer. He’s developing our faith. Even so, praying for people is tricky.

We can’t ask for what we think is best, because God has a much bigger view of the situation than we do. If their current hardship is a building block for His work in their lives or to draw others to Himself, who are we to get in the way?

“Prayer is the verbalization of your total dependence on God.” ~Dr. Wayne Barber

As such, it’s more than a wish list. It includes recognizing who God is, praising and thanking Him, asking forgiveness of those things that have come between us, asking for His perspective in our lives… and listening to Him.

The intercession part, where we’re committing others’ needs (and our own) to God’s care, is vital. It’s not about giving God advice—or instructions. And it’s not like we have to point out the issue to Him. He already knows all about it, and has a plan for what’s next.

My grandmother prayed daily for each family member by name. She called it her “knee grandmas-love-197294-mwork.” Whether we’re that diligent about it or we only pray for our loved ones when there’s a crisis, reaching out to God on their behalf is natural.

When we don’t know what to ask, we can commit them to His care. I often pray for sustaining grace and that the individual(s) will allow their circumstances to draw them nearer to God. For open eyes and hearts to recognize His care in the middle of their stress. For faith, perseverance, and courage.

It’s important to pray for the people we interact with. We know their needs, and often we can be part of the comfort, support or help they need. God may want to answer our prayers for them through us.

Janet Sketchley is a Canadian author with a passion for story. She’s also a wife, mom, daughter, and friend, balancing relationships and responsibilities while learning how faith applies to real life. Combine all that with her quirky imagination to get inspiring novels about everyday women in suspenseful situations, who discover more strength within than they could have dreamed.

Janet’s novel, Heaven’s Prey, released November 1, 2013 from Choose NOW Publishing. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven’s Prey page at Choose NOW Publishing.

Heavens_Prey_Front_Cover 302x468Heaven’s Prey :

A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.

Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?

Let’s talk about this! The other night at my Bible study group, we discussed this very thing. One of our members lost a child to a congenital illness, and she shared how fervently she’d prayed for her daughter’s healing. She said she’d prayed with a “faith to move mountains,” and yet, her daughter had died anyway. But then she said something very thought provoking. “What if the mountains that move are a different kind of mountain?”

livingbygracepic.jpLike the mountain of someone else who’s watching us persevere, watching us rely fully on God, who goes from disbelief to saving faith.

Or the mountain of a marriage, once teetering dangerously close to divorce, now restored.

Or the mountain of an emotional wound experiencing a deep level of healing.

How often do we consider those mountains? Join the conversation here, in the comments below, or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Another post you might enjoy:

When is enough enough

Resources you might find helpful:

Live a Praying Life by New Hope Publishers



  1. If the only response to our prayer is that we (and/or others) draw closer to God, the prayer is still good, and the prayer is still answered. I firmly believe every prayer is answered. Sometimes (or usually) not exactly as we asked, but exactly what is needed.
    Anne Baxter Campbell

    1. Beautiful perspective, Anne! I am often reminded of how finite my mind is. I want healing, answers, solutions in the hear and now, but those eternal things like growth, love, intimacy with God, are things that have the greatest and longest lasting value. 🙂

    2. Anne, Carolyn Watts posted something along these lines recently at Hearing the Heartbeat — about how everything is intended to draw us closer to God, because He desires relationship with us so strongly. (Not that He causes the hard things, but that He can use even those.)

    1. Cheri, thanks so much for popping in. I’m glad Janet’s post encouraged you. It did me as well! And it’s led to some wonderful questions with others via email. 🙂

      Janet, I agree with her, your novel looks wonderful! Too bad I can’t enter the give-away! lol. Seems I’ll just *have* to buy it. 🙂 Congrats on your debut, friend!

  2. This post touched my heart. It probably speaks to every Christian who reads it because we are all guilty at some time of thinking like this. Thank you for sharing. And than you for giving us the opportunity to maybe win a great spriitual novel by a Christian author. May God bless her to intwinging His message in her books. Ann Knowles

    1. It’s so easy to get discouraged, isn’t it, Ann, when the troubles are big and we’re not seeing answers? I love what Jennifer quoted near the end of the post: “What if the mountains that move are a different kind of mountain?” That really makes me stop and think. And thank you for your prayer!

    2. Ann, thanks for joining the conversation. 🙂 And good luck in the book give-away! I know whoever wins her novel won’t be disappointed. And the rest of us, well, we just need to head on over to Amazon. 😉

  3. This post touched my heart. It probably speaks to every Christian who reads it because we are all guilty at some time of thinking like this. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for giving us the opportunity to maybe win a great spriitual novel by a Christian author. May God bless her to intwining His message in her books. Ann Knowles

  4. Great post, Jen! Thanks for sharing Janet’s insights on prayer. Especially liked considering the words of your Bible study member: “What if the mountains that move are a different kind of mountain?” Something to ponder. God bless~

    1. Thanks, Maria,

      And I’m with you. I need to chew on that for some time, and I have to admit, the statement was even more thought provoking–challenging–coming from her, after all she and her husband have gone through.

  5. Awe the sweet word…Pray…I too Jen tend to panic at times before praying…My mind has a mind of it’s own but this post reminded me that I just have to sit and pray about my situations…Thanks.

    1. Beth, I can be a panic-er too. I love the quote from Dr. Barber about prayer being a verbalization of our dependence on God. When I can remember and rest in trusting Him, it’s good.

  6. Excellent post and helpful God-honouring perspectives. Thank you.
    My prayers at this time include a young youth / assistant pastor — a father of three young sons, serving in a neighbouring community. His youngest (4 years) is in a treatment regime for leukemia. His wife died two days ago from inflammation of the brain. I don’t know the specific cause.
    He is facing quite a mountain with more than one peak. . . . But God . . . May this dear young man find his sufficiency in Christ, and experience the faithfulness of God. ~~+~~

    1. Peter, so good to see you here! I add my prayers to yours for this young man. May God carry and sustain him, and strengthen his faith and that of his sons. When we don’t have the words, God hears our hearts.

    2. Oh, Peter! That is so hard! And amen to your prayer. It breaks my heart to know of all the pain experienced in this world. It reminds me where our hope lies–in heaven, where pain and sickness will be no more.

  7. A thought provoking post. Yesterday my close friend and I were in prayer for a pastor who has been in ICU for months. He was inflicted with pancreatic inflammation while on the mission field. The latest memo received this morning is his kidneys & liver are shutting down, he is jaundiced and confused. “Why,why” my friend cried with tears streaming down her face. Hundreds have prayed for him with fasting and all night vigils. I too ask why? But we cannot know the whole only God knows why. But we are assured of that heavenly home whatever the outcome.

    1. Mary, things like this are so sad, and we sure don’t understand why. All we can hold onto is God, and what we know of His character. Sometimes I think of the disciples, when some were abandoning Jesus and He asked if they were going to leave too. “Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Sometimes that’s what it comes down to for me. We may not like it, but pain WITH Him is better than trying things on our own.

  8. This is a fascinating subject and I’m thankful that it’s been aired. “Lack of” answered prayers happens to all of us and sadly turns away people from God and faith. It’s only been in the past few decades–when I’ve committed my heart to Him, no matter what–that I’ve seen with my own eyes (yes, I’m adding the emphasis for a reason) that all prayer is answered. It’s just a matter of God’s timing. And God’s reply. God isn’t a magical genie that grants wishes. How He chooses to answer is for a reason. Sometimes we’ll understand this reason. Sometimes not. To use a cliche–life is full of bitter pills to swallow. And just because bad happens, it’s not because God wants bad to happen. But He is there for us. Always. And I’m thankful.

    Janet, your novel sounds like a wonderful read. Blessings.

    1. Well said, Elaine, and from a place of wisdom. I wish I could “star” or “like” your comment. Committing our hearts to God, no matter what–YES. May He help us to do this. Thank you.

  9. Mary, I am so sorry. I know how painful it is to see our friends suffer. I had a friend die from brain cancer not long ago, and honestly, there were moment where it shook my faith. And like Elaine, I had to get to a place where I chose to love and praise God regardless of my circumstances. Because I realized the alternative–to go through life without a close and growing relationship with my Savior–was unbearable.

    Elaine, as one who knows you, all I can say is you are a rock and a model of authentic, surrendered, and growing faith. I’m so glad God brought us together! And one of these days we’ll meet outside of the cyberworld!

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