“I was a heavy gambler. I prayed to win a fortune. It never happened.”
—Samuel, * Kenya.
“In school all we had to do was recite the memorized prayers we were taught.”
“I pray when I face problems. I pray for forgiveness of sins and to be a better Christian.”
The comments made by Samuel, Teresa, and Magdalene show that people pray for a wide range of reasons, some more noble than others. Some people’s prayers are heartfelt; others’ prayers are almost devoid of any personal touch. Nevertheless, whether they pray to pass examinations at school or pray for their favorite sports team to win, for God’s guidance in their family life, or for a multitude of other reasons, hundreds of millions feel the need to pray. In fact, surveys show that even some with no religious affiliation pray regularly.
Do you pray? If so, what do you pray for? Whether you are in the habit of praying or not, you may wonder: ‘Does it really do any good to pray? Is anyone listening?’ One writer expressed the view that prayer is just “a form of therapy . . . like talking to your pet fish.” Some medical authorities have a similar view, calling prayer a form of “alternative medicine.” Are people who pray just going through a meaningless exercise or, at best, getting some therapeutic benefit from the practice?
In contrast, the Bible presents prayer as much more than just a form of therapy. It tells us that someone really is listening to prayers that are made in the right way and for the right things. Is this true? Let us look at the evidence.
^ par. 3 Some names have been changed.