Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

How Prayer Works: God’s Guarded Trade Secret

In a response to yesterday’s post, “Praying with our head’s screwed on,” “Kris” offered this comment: “If prayer is for our benefit why must we be so specific? Is it the time we spend on prayer itself and research in order to be more specific. Or is it the specific detail we give to God concerning our needs that seem to make a difference. Just curious…”

What are your thoughts? For what it’s worth, here are a few of mine…

… I don’t know. And I’m not sure God wants us to know. He seems very protective of his secret recipes for how the world works. Even scientists eventually come to the end of the line of knowledge, the further into space they look, and the further down into the atom they peer. Knowing “how” prayer works is also something God appears to be very reluctant to reveal to us. Prayer moves God’s hand, but “how?” just doesn’t come clear. I can flip a light switch, but I don’t know “how” electricity really works – no one really does.


In fact, I don’t think there is a single right way to pray, a formula to follow. Perhaps that’s because the object here is God, not God’s ways. Prayer is about relationship with God, not about pushing a particular button in some cosmic computer bank.

Details seem to matter in prayer… That’s about all we know. If the Bible is precedent for our lives – I believe it is – then we look at the first patterns for healing prayer laid out for us by Jesus as patterns to follow. Jesus seemed to address issues specifically and individually. He didn’t just wave his hand – he could have I suppose – and cure every sickness once and for all. Instead, he engaged with people personally and asked questions of them. He even asked one blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” not even assuming the guy wanted to be healed.


It seems to me that everything in life – including our need for healing through prayer – is a set up for furthering our relationship with God. God is not a recipe or formula or a control panel with buttons. God is a THE PERSON behind all personhood. When we pray specifically, with knowledge and intelligence, it give us greater opportunity to engage with God as a partner, a son or daughter in his great realm. Knowledge in our discussion with God gives him the opportunity to bring us closer to the ultimate role he has planned for us: ruling and reigned with him in this amazing corner of his creation.

Jennifer Schuchmann and I begin our book, Six Prayers God Always Answers, with some lines that, I believe also relate to this discussion:


Prayer doesn’t work.

God works.

We often get that confused, don’t we?

We think there is a certain formula we have to follow–a right way of doing prayer. If we do it right, God answers. It’s like using the correct postage after a rate change, the proper stamp ensures delivery. But when our prayers don’t get answered, we believe we’re somehow at fault. We prayed the “wrong” way. There are lots of ways we could have screwed up–not enough postage (or good deeds), mislabeled the envelope (prayed to God when we should have prayed to Jesus) or forgot to seal it (with a promise to do better next time).

Those are my first reaction thoughts to Kris’ provocative question…  What are yours?

  • Hydronmatrix

    Wow, I do pray a lot myself I look at it this way. Its like every time I pray its like I’m making a phone call to God and leaving a message on his answering machine waiting for him to respond back to me. Since he has millions upon millions of prayers to answers its best that we walk in faith and do what is right here on earth in order for our prayers to be answered.

  • SuzanneWA

    I believe that if you’re in a “right relationship” with God, the MOTIVES of your prayer must be PURE. In my case, I “shoot” short prayers, as if in a conversation, to God. I listen for the still, small voice, telling me if I’m on the right track. If there’s something seriously wrong, I will get on my KNEES in “prayer warrior” mode, and “converse” with my Heavenly Father. As we all know, God DOES answer prayer – either “yes,” “no,” or “not yet.” I rely on my prayers being answered in “God’s TIMING,” not mine. And if we remain in His service, in this relationship, we have nothing to be afraid of.

  • Your Name

    God dose every thing in his time. he is waiting for us to come to him because we are his children. Prayer must come from the heart and not form the our needs for money or benfit form somethin. We must first want god in our lives. Them we can try to have a paryer that God will listen when we are true of heart and in our mind. We need to seek God and not things of the earth.Who do you worship?

  • CraigFL

    I think one issue on prayer that has’nt really been touched on, but we seem to not think about. When we pray, we are on “Gods time”. He always answers our prayers, maybe not in the time frame we were looking for. He also answer us in many different ways. I recently recovered from cancer a few years ago. He enabled me to live, by putting people in my life that introduced me to the doctors that were able to heal me. Prayer is all in his time. We also “must” know, we have to know, that in our hearts, our prayers will be answered. Now, my cousin is a spiritual healer, and will pray for people Yes, or NO on questions, and generally will have a faster response. But we also must not forget to give our daily time to God and Tithe, we all have to do our part also, if we expect something in return. I enjoy reading all of the different opinons and philosophies on this sight. Thru this sight, we area being educated and I sure, prayers are being answered. God Bless

  • Wolfe

    I read a quote that someone said on prayer on this network. “The value of consistant prayer is not that he hears us, but that we hear him.” -William McGill It made me stop and think.

  • Your Name

    God answers all prayers. Period. Others have commented on how. The power of prayer has also been commented on, but I think there are more dimensions. One dimension that has not been discussed is that when we pray for others, we are not thinking of ourselves. This is a powerful part of God’s plan for us. The time we spend concerned for others is time we did not spend worrying about our own situation. It reminds us to be grateful; to remember what He has given us, not what we do not have.

  • AJ Gregory

    I believe that a good point in prayer—that I know I am so quick to forget—is the relational aspect of engaging with the Divine. It’s a time to commune with him, to lay down our fears, our messes, our doubts and of course revel in the opportunity we have to relate with an engaging God. I like how you said there is no magic formula of praying. So true. I think if we focused more on resting in his presence—understanding that he knows our needs, he hears the utterances of our heart that we cannot even put into words—we will find more peace than if we focus all our attention and energy in deciphering a “no”, a “yes,” a “maybe,” a “not now,” and so on.

  • Rita from Colorado

    I believe God will answer prayer if he sees it as a “need” not as a “want” and it is true it will be with a “yes” or a “no” and a “maybe” is like he’s saying show me. that he wants more proof of our faith with him. And by being faithful to him our prayers will be answered. I myself have had to many prayers answered not to believe this is the way many have been answered in miraclulous ways,,instant signs shown to me and in other times it came on his timing but always just in time. I have lost count of his blessing he has bestowed upon me and in the short time I have been reborn, there is no one on earth that can convince me that these are coincidences. THEY WERE ALL GOD ANSWERED PRAYERS TO ME!!

  • Nadaud Jacques-louis

    OH MY, that is so true about how prayers work! praying to the father shuld come from within the soul. i can remember some of my “screw-ups” for axample: blurbing out nonsence and lack of focus. Its amazing how the spirit works when your disturbed, it will bring out your concience in the light, having you recognized what you are doing wrong. Now its our choice to decide whether we listen to the voice & obey it to do right from wrong and grow within or we can be stubborn, naive,lack of undrstanding and let our negligence deteriorate us to death. therefore, we must learn how to pray from your heart&soul,take heed to the word,obey his commands and he shall set you free from all your troubles.

  • Karo

    It’s with our hearts that we know what to ask of God and with our mouths our request are sent to God. We need to speak our request, sure God knows our hearts but it is with the mouth confessions are made. And often it is when we hear our own words that we too hear our request and truly know what’s be portioned to God. God wants us to speak to him as if we where speaking to our earthly father. We have an open line of communication to the Father. Use it!!!

  • Your Name

    I’m not sure about the whole thing. I do know this though; it’s VERY personal for me. When i’m relating with God; it’s me and Him. Not, for everybody to understand “our”” way of communicating, and He is in charge and I must just WAIT and WATCH the MASTER work. His way is the right way and I have to learn acceptance.

  • Larry

    Sometimes, we think that what we want should take priority with God. The truth seems to be that before we ask, we should seriously think about what we are asking. And indeed, we need to ask. Even though God knows what we need before we ask, We sometimes ask for what we want instead of what we need.
    The point of prayer in the first place, is to acknowledge that God is our Father, and we his obedient Children. We are so ignorant most of the time, that we think we run the show. We need to commit ourselves to God, Whole heart, mind, and soul. When we do, we know He hears us. And how do we show Him our Love? By obedience. If you say you love Me, and keep not my commandments, you are a liar. And the truth is not in you. True obedience is Freedom and we dwell in his Love.

  • clara e sharp

    I believe every thought is a prayer. If I think hateful thoughts about an individual, I am affirming hate in my own heart. If I think blessed thoughts about another, we are both blessed.
    I believe being specific is fine, but I like to ask, not for the answwer, but for guidance to find the answer that is already in me. We all have peace and wisdom, but it is sometimes to remember or realize that. That is when I ask God to help me find that “pace that passes all understanding”. I usually find the answer myself.

  • sean

    I have found that prayers are heard in many ways. by just talking to God,thinking of your desires,by just hoping for things,getting on your knees and praying,or sometimes God,will guide you or nudge you into a thought, or prayer. communication is the key, yes praying from your heart WITH the right motives, with sincerity with love with passion,and with many other feelings, all feelings, one other very important point is you must believe and faith. I DO

  • Barbara

    Hi I started reading this and gave it some thought and the thing that stands out is when Jesus was speaking to His disciples and they ask Master how should we pray and Jesus answers with The Lords prayer so to me that is an outline first but when I pray I always clothes my prayer with the lords prayer obedience to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ but with this He gave us a guideline to start prayer with thanksgiving and acknowledging His Glory I know if we are saved we all have so much to be greatful for there are so many verses that tell us what to include in our prayers but mostly prayer is the intimate relationship we have with god the Father, Jesus the Son our Savior and the Holy Spirit our comforter and the One who interpets our heart of hearts to the Lord. this is my thoughts and Lord knows I’m just a servant of Christ trying to do everything with the Grace of God to be pleasing to God because without Him there would be no me. Peace Grace and Love in the Lord Jesus Christ

  • hdmi splitter

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  • Mark Herringshaw

    Thanks for letting us know you’re there… That actually means a lot knowing that we’re hitting the mark on some things. Dive in and join the conversation anytime! God’s blessed best!

  • Mark Herringshaw

    Great reminders, Barbara

  • Your Name

    I really enjoyed this blog. I enjoy praying to God, talking and praying to my saviour Jesus Christ. When I was young I was taught “never to pray when I’m angry”. I have learned this to be so false. God wants us to come to HIm and pray to Him at any time, in any emotional condition. I am gifted by God, I have had many spiritual revelations and experiences that no one else has. I have no idea why but it doesn’t matter to me. I believe that everything that has happened in my life both good and bad has or will come to be “Glory to God and His Heavenly Kingdom” and that’s one of the things I pray for.
    God Bless All of You!!
    Becky :)

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  • Farmville Expert

    Prayer also enables us to appropriate the character of God. Prayer focuses the power of God on an individual place or person.Prayer enters in when God then enlists the partnership of man in carrying out his program.

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