The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 19, 2013

Ask Debra: How important is prayer?

Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Question: If God knows everything and is in control, why is there such a stress on praying? God created the world without human beings praying. If He really is all-powerful and all-knowing, then what does it matter whether I pray or not?

Answer: You are right in thinking that God is so powerful He can do anything He wants. But what He wants the most is to change our hearts and make us more like Him. That happens when we yield our wills to Him in prayer.

One of my favorite Oswald Chambers quotes is, “Prayer changes you, and you change things.” Of course, I believe prayer can and does change situations. We bring our requests to God because Scripture tells us to:  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). However, even in this verse, bringing our requests to God is linked to being relieved of anxiety through the act of prayer. The next verse even mentions peace in relation to prayer “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (v.7).  The one thing I have found that regular prayer changes the most is me. Prayer is about more than just making our requests known to God. Prayer is about being still before the Lord and allowing Him to change our hearts, our motives, and the way we interact with those around us.

When we fall still before the Lord long enough and regularly enough, we develop an intimacy with Him that keeps us steady in hard times and balanced in good times. Furthermore, He fills us with His love in such a mighty and powerful way that those we deal with know there’s something different about us. And that is the most powerful form of testimony.

Unfortunately, too many people view prayer as a one-way highway that leads to getting God to fulfill a wish list. In this mindset, God is viewed like a genie in the sky who exists for the sole purpose of granting our every wish. When the wish list isn’t fulfilled, then these folks often claim God has let them down.

The truth is, prayer is the means to a spiritual powerhouse available to us through Christ Jesus. God has existed from infinity and will continue to exist into infinity. He did not need us to create the universe, and he does not need us to run it. But we desperately need Him to create His love within us and to run our lives. Human beings are no good on their own. We were created in the image of God; but we are not gods.

Frankly, I have seen God move in answer to so many prayers. I know He answers prayers because He chooses to interact with us in that vein. However, I believe sometimes He waits to move until we pray because He created us to be in communion with Him in every area of our lives. Bringing our request to God demonstrates to Him our dependence upon Him, and that is His ultimate goal in the life of every believer.

There are few things more exciting than seeing the Lord miraculously answer a prayer. But even more special is the deep, quiet, lasting peace that comes through falling silent in the presence of a mighty God who is the source of our very breath. Unfortunately, few believers sit still long enough to really encounter God on this level; but God is waiting for us to do exactly that.

The author of 54 books, Debra White Smith holds an M.A. from U.T. and is the featured relationship specialist on the Fox News Radio Show, “Plain Jane Wisdom.” She and her husband, Daniel, co-pastor Palestine Church of the Nazarene. For more information, visit Got a problem? E-mail Debra at