Does prayer work?

Do you ever wonder if prayer works? Do you ever feel that prayer is a waste of time? Do you know what the Bible says about prayer?

When we pray, we are talking to God. Sometimes prayer includes asking God to do something. The following verses contain an example of a prayer that worked and a statement about the effectiveness of prayer. As you read the following verses, notice that Abraham was talking to God. What did Abraham ask God to do?

Gen. 18:20 And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.

Gen. 18:21 “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

Gen. 18:22 ¶ Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.

Gen. 18:23 Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?

Gen. 18:24 “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?

Gen. 18:25 “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

Gen. 18:26 So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.”

This dialogue continued and eventually Abraham persuaded Yahweh to spare the city if there were 10 righteous people in the city. Abraham asked God to spare the righteous who lived in Sodom because he knew that Lot lived in Sodom and he was trying to spare Lot’s life. God did not find enough righteous people in Sodom so He destroyed the city, but He did spare the lives of Lot and his daughters. Notice in the next several verses the effect that Abraham had on God’s actions.

Gen. 19:27 ¶ Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the LORD;

Gen. 19:28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace.

Gen. 19:29 ¶ Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

It was Abraham’s influence that spared Lot’s life. This tells us that prayer works. Abraham was a man just like us, and yet God listened to Abraham and was moved and persuaded by Abraham’s request. This passage also illustrates a statement that James made about prayer.

James 5:16b … The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Abraham was a righteous man so God listened when Abraham interceded on behalf of Lot. What about us? Do we believe that prayer works? Do we faithfully pray? Are we striving to be righteous so that our prayers can accomplish much? Genesis contains a clear example of prayer that worked. James stated clearly that prayer works. As we go through our lives, we should be confident that prayer works, we should be in the habit of praying, and we should strive to be righteous so that our prayers can accomplish much.


Further Reading

How much can we push God?

Do you really believe God can do anything?

What should we do when the future seems bleak?


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”