What's the Point of Prayer?

God's word promises our prayers can change things.

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What's the Point of Prayer?

She was quick: ‘You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.’ Jesus gave in. ‘Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!’ Right then her daughter became well.” Matthew 15:27–28 (MSG)

Remember the old song “Que Sera, Sera”? Its fatalistic philosophy, disguised as a sort of happy-go-lucky acceptance, declared that “whatever will be, will be.” If that’s true, then what is the point of prayer?

What if the truth is, whatever will be, might not be? Is it possible that when we pray, we can change what will be? The Bible seems to indicate that it is possible to change what might be to something else. In other words, our prayers can change God’s mind.

In Jesus’ discussion with a Canaanite woman, He at first won’t do what she asks. But she’s clever and persistent and humble. She pleads, banters, bargains—and Jesus gives in. He changes His mind. This astounds me.

Similarly, the Old Testament is full of examples of God relenting from causing destruction, and of people bargaining with God. Think Nineveh. Think of Abraham trying to save Sodom and Gomorrah by asking if God will spare the cities if only fifty—no, wait, forty-five—no, forty, thirty...righteous people are found there. God lets Abraham bargain Him down to only ten righteous people being enough to spare the city—but even that many can’t be found.

The fatalist in me wants to believe that what will be, will be. The Bible indicates otherwise: that we can banter and bargain with Jesus. It seems to be telling us that prayer can actually change things.

We must also be open to the truth that one thing that could be significantly changed by prayer is us. Prayer sometimes changes our circumstances, but it always changes our attitudes.

Faith Step: Read the context of today’s Scripture, Matthew 15:21–28. What outrageous request are you asking Jesus to change His mind about?

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