Is prayer ever a waste of time?

     …pray without ceasing,  (Thessalonians 5:17)

I pray.

I pray ludicrous prayers.

I pray my dreams. I pray my fears. I read God’s word aloud so He remembers what He promised (wink) while I also remember what He says. Sometimes I cry like a baby and other times I smile as I write entries in a thank you journal. Each day brings a new conversation just like in relationships with people.

Is prayer a waste of time if the prayers aren’t answered?

I say no, and here are some reasons why.

1. Many prayers do get answered.

I have lived some miracles. I have watched bills get paid when there was no money., have watched jobs be provided when the bank account was on life support, have watched chunks of debt disappear in one day, and there was that one day someone essentially gave us a house. More importantly, I have watched some people commit their lives to Christ and others grow in their faith and have their lives transformed. Oh yes, I have seen miracles as a result of prayer.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  (James 5:16b)

2. Praying assures the answer is from God.

The way I figure, if I pray hard about something and the answer is no, then I know the answer is from God and not a consequence of my neglect to pray. This week, for example, I prayed that my son would land on the same winter basketball team as his friend. Today the roster revealed my son and his friend are not on the same team. Because I had prayed, I received the answer from God. I said to my son, “Being on the same team as your friend was not going to be God’s best.” God clearly wants me sitting in the bleachers with some other mom, or my son to be friends with some other young man as well. All because I prayed…

And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:15)

3. God changes my heart.

Like David in so many of the Psalms, I often start my prayer time with the emotions of the day (which aren’t pretty, especially if I haven’t had coffee yet) and I end up forgiving and praying for my enemies with a sincere heart some minutes later. It’s like prayer opens up a channel between heaven and earth and as my heart is pouring out upward, God’s hand is reaching down and reshaping my thinking and feelings to align with His. (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven). I am so often changed while I pray.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

4. People hear less junk.

There’s a lot of junk that pours from my heart. I don’t pull any punches because the condition of my heart is at risk. The Bible says. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23) Like you, I get my feelings hurt. I get angry and worried. At times I am scared. Sometimes I am disgusted with myself! Expressing the ugly stuff to God before sharing any of it with people is a great strategy. So often the negativity is completely solved with prayer alone and there is no more need to say anything to people. In such cases, my friends and family are spared the drama. If after praying, something remains that needs to be shared, prayer has put me in a better place to say it. People get more love and less spewing, and more productive talk then destructive. Because God has already listened to me, I am better able to listen to others.

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19)

Try praying this week. It’s not a waste of time!


Picture Explanation: Our twin girls turned 25 this week. I did not plan for them and do not deserve them. They are His grace to me. They live in different states, so I visited one the weekend before her birthday and we celebrated the other the weekend after. 

I remember praying for them by name my entire pregnancy and looked forward to meeting them! It’s been so much fun to watch their lives unfold and observe talent and ability that far exceeds my own. They are better than me at so many things.

The longer I mother, the more I realize all I can do is pray. I don’t have the power to produce any particular result from my actions. All is grace. My prayers will continue to follow them for the rest of their days.

© 2018 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.

8 Responses

  1. So well put, Laurie. I especially appreciated the example you gave of your son not being on the same team as his friend. You prayed and accepted that it was Gods best for that to be the case. Your response to him and your understanding of it will stick with me. Thank you for communicating this truth so clearly.

    1. Thank you, Jen. It is special to me when people say I communicate a truth clearly. God’s grace. I pray for it! Let’s keep praying.

  2. Once again, Laurie, you speak such truth. I identify so much with the praying all the stuff I don’t need to share with anyone else. God is so faithful to hear, listen and love me anyway. And praying for your kids, indeed, all the days of their lives…not a minute of that is wasted. Blessings on you, friend.

    1. Oh, those conversations we have with the Lord, just us and Him. So private, personal and even sacred. Let’s not quit.

  3. We’ve been praying for healing for a good friend. We’ve prayed believing that God would say yes either supernaturally with no human intervention, through surgery, or by taking him to heaven. Today, God said “Yes.” He chose the 3rd option. In our sorrow we find such peace in knowing God, knowing all of the intricate details and long term impact, chose the best means to answer our prayers. Now I get to pray that each one of us grieving will surrender what was never ours to decide to the God who called the stars into existence, and that He will work even this for good for each person.

    1. Together with you in praying and accepting God’s answers…it requires surrender, but the best kind. Our faith will be found sure.
      I am sorry you had to say good-bye to a good friend.

  4. I’m absolutely convinced that praying is an utter waste of time. Telling my dog my requests do about as much good as telling them to God. Either A) I was wrong this whole time and he doesn’t exist or B) He exists but doesn’t hear or doesn’t care to answer my prayers. Either way praying is just shouting at the sky and not receiving anything in return. God certainly doesn’t heal today if he ever truly did in the first place. I’m at the point where I’m starting to wonder if all the accounts in the Bible of people being healed was merely propaganda and completely false. If God cared he’d heal my mother but since he either won’t or can’t I’m pretty convinced he doesn’t care. Perhaps this is how he gets his kicks, like a kid with a magnifying glass burning the bugs. If this is the kind of God I foolishly served all these years then I’m not sure that’s the kind of God I would want to spend eternity with.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Jonathan. I appreciate the honesty.

      I am sorry your mother wasn’t healed. The pain must be so intense. My brother died when I was 25 and he was 23. My heart shattered into a million pieces and I responded in anger and made a mess of my life for seven years. In working out why my faith collapsed, I put a Bible in my lap and kind of started all over asking the big questions, one of which was, why did my brother die? If you want to read the answers to my questions and the perspectives gleaned that ended up calming my soul down, please let me send you a free copy by e-mailing your address to me @oaksministries in the comments tab. If you want to obtain a copy through purchase, please do so through but you will need to pay for the book and shipping.

      Please remember God did not create death. He is life. He watched His own Son die so the curse of death common to us all will be broken. Death is not winning; It just looks like it’s winning, but it’s role in history is finite. One day soon (in light of eternity) all things will be restored as new again. Life forever.

      Please, please, receive my words as a person speaking with gentleness, kindness and care. I will pray for your aching heart.

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I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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