Sunday, 13 February 2011

Prayer Changes Things…

I posted 3 weeks ago [here] about Joanne Heim – the young American Blogger who had a massive stroke on January 11th. I asked that if you could, you would remember Jo and her family in your prayers. I know that a number of you have joined the massive worldwide group praying for Joanne.

jo heim 2

You might like to read this post from her blog, posted on Thursday, by her husband Tobin [February 10th] Jo is slowly making real progress towards recovery.

Another blogging friend has recently come through major cancer surgery, and has been sharing her news too.

Another blogger, Pondside [here] has recently shared news of her husband’s sudden near fatal illness and gradual recovery. I was asked by a mutual friend to pray about that situation [before it was ‘public’ on the blog]


I mention these situations for a number of reasons

  1. Because I want to praise God for the healing they are experiencing
  2. Because I want to remind you that they need continued prayer
  3. Because I would like to share some of my thoughts about prayer

I believe God always hears our prayer and He always answers. But His answer may be “Yes” “No” or “Not Yet”. That isn’t a glib get-out for when sick people are prayed for and yet they die, or when people pray about an exam and still fail, or whatever. I believe God is a loving Father, and like all good parents, he listens to his children and wants the best for them. When my girls were younger and asked for something [an ice cream, or to have their ears pierced, or anything – from trivial to important] our answers would be “Yes” “No” or “Not Yet” – depending on the question, and our opinion of what was best for our child at that moment [hopefully we made well-thought-out, informed choices- though the daughters might not always have agreed!] I believe God knows what is best for us, and so He answers out of his loving omniscience. [I’m not going to throw in lots of ‘proof texts’ but do check out Romans 8;28]

Furthermore, I believe God’s answer is not dependent on the faith of the person praying – i.e. if someone is not healed, that doesn’t mean their faith was weak, and if they are healed that proves what a fine Christian they are. But I do believe that the more we pray, and talk with God, and listen to God, then that very act actually does strengthen our faith.

durer praying hands

For all my love of maths, I don’t believe God plays the ‘Numbers Game’ with us. The “If only they can get enough people to pray for X, then it will happen'” argument.  God is not swayed by the majority vote. If that were the case, wars would have ended sooner, little Maddie McCann would be back home with her Mum, JFK would have survived the assassin’s bullet… Steph has been in a ‘Prayer Triplet’ at her church for quite a while now – the idea being that she should meet with two other girls regularly so that they can pray together. She was lamenting the fact that thus far they have never actually managed to schedule a time when all three of them can be together, it has always been 2 out of 3. But as I said, Jesus promised to be with them even when just two meet in His Name… It is not the size of the Prayer Meeting that guarantees God’s attention. If He sees the sparrow fall, then He will hear the softest lone voice calling out to him.


These past few weeks, as I have prayed for these people, I have asked many questions...

What if they are not healed? How will their families cope? If they are healed, how will their future lives be changed by these experiences? These people are the other side of the Atlantic – is there anything other than prayer I can offer to help them right now? If a family in my own church went through this, what would we be able to do to help them?  What if my own family faced a similar crisis- how would we react?

How is it that just knowing you are being prayed for by someone else can be such a help to you? How is is that sometimes just saying the prayer gives you peace inside, before you have any knowledge of an ‘answer’?

How is it that when I have prayed for someone, it leaves a marker in my brain? the other week, I met up with a friend for the first time in ages. In conversation, I suddenly asked after a distant member of her family who had been through an awful trauma last summer. “Fancy you remembering her name!” she said. I couldn’t work out why at first – but then I realised that for those few weeks I’d been praying for her daily, and I guess her name had lodged in my memory.

I don’t have answers to all these. But I do know this – the more I pray, the more I understand of God. The more I pray, the more I feel His love, and the certainty of His presence. The more I pray, the more I can trust His Sovereignty and know His Will is the best for me [even if I don’t always understand why, or feel happy about the situation]

susannah wesley

It is said that Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles [and seventeen other children!] would often sit down in the kitchen and throw her large apron up over her face. When she did that, the children knew she was praying and would be quiet around her. I never felt able to adopt that policy in my home [Liz and Steph have inherited my love of fun, and would probably have used the situation for some mischievous activity] But I do appreciate her readiness to take any and every difficult situation immediately to God.

One night, we were both sound asleep in bed, and were woken by the phone ringing. Bob answered [remarkably promptly] and spoke gently with the person at the other end. I could hear he was giving wise advice and comfort to someone in distress [although I had no clear idea who it was, or what the problem was] Then he said “Before you hang up the phone, can I pray for you?” and proceeded to pray about the situation. I knew that the caller was helped by his words and by his willingness to pray then and there about the problem.[The next day, Bob was able to ascertain that all was OK again]

As I pray, I get closer to God. As I pray for others, I believe I bring them closer to God. It is not so much that “Prayer changes things” but rather that

Prayer changes People


  1. A beautiful post, Angela.
    I have seen prayer work miracles so often, and have been thankful.

  2. Thanks Angela. I know that that the prayers of countless others have strengthened and comforted me in recent months and certainly carried me through the recent surgery. I am a firm believer that "in all things God works for good for those who love him" which allows me better to cope with answers I may not especially like.

    A couple of other thoughts...

    Sometimes we confuse 'heal' with 'cure'... even if I am not 'cured' of/from my cancer hopefully I will be 'healed' - made a whole person - in some way.

    I wonder if someimtes a fourth answer to prayer is possible (especially if it is prayer seeking discernment bewteen diffenret 'good' alternatives)which is "you may decide". For example, "should I take this job or that" may have the answer "you can serve me equally in either." This isn't just a cop out that says I'll pick and expect God to bless,rather it acknoewledges that there isn't always only one right answer.

    What do others think?

  3. Thanks C for your thoughts- to which I shall give further consideration before commenting! You will be pleased to know I have just returned from leading a service at Dibley - where we all prayed for you!!

  4. This is very encouraging, Angela.
    Thank you!

  5. Excellent!

    I grew up Methodist. My grandmother was our Sunday School teacher in the sixth grade and read us the story of John Wesley for many Sundays. I understand that Susannah was an wonderful preacher; when he husband was preaching away, she filled in for him with no decrease in the congregation. Good prayers make better preachers, huh? ~Liz

  6. So true, prayer is the exercise of our relationship with God. He always knows best and can see the outcome of circumstances that we can never see.

    I have recently asked for prayer on my blog and from my church and family for our niece who was admitted to hospital with meningitis - she is home already and is well. I truly believe that prayer has upheld her. My husband's cousin has had a stroke, he's only in his 30's, the stroke was caused by two brain tumours. He's coming out of hospital tomorrow. I really believe that it is prayer that upholds him.

    I guess the best prayer is always for God's will. For He knows best, and for us to truly pray for HIS will rather than for what we want is to truly trust Him. This is hard when we are in the midst of an upsetting or painful situation. The Holy Spirit intercedes in our weakness. So He answers, as you say, like the most beautiful loving parent - with 'yes', 'no' or 'not yet'.

    I do believe though that faith has a part in the answer of prayer: "And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matt 13:58). Maybe this was because they wouldn't come to Jesus for help (because they didn't accept that he was from God). So rather than it being weak faith it was simply that they wouldn't come to Him. I wonder how you understand this scripture?

    BTW: I love Susannah Wesley's story. What a wonderful woman.


  7. Lovely post, Angela. I should tell you that my friend David, for whom I asked prayers a few weeks ago, is making remarkable progress with his treatment for cancer--in fact, he is responding so well to chemo that he's been allowed to go home and take his chemotherapy as an outpatient. I believe that the prayers of so many folks have lifted him up and have helped him heal.

    I like very much the above comment about the difference between being cured and being healed. A very important distinction.

    Finally, I read your comment above about preaching in Dibley. As a huge fan of "The Vicar of Dibley," this pleases me to no end.


  8. Very wonderful thoughts, Angela. Dan preached on this recently and had similar thoughts on it. Often prayer never changes the circumstances, but it does change my attitude towards them!

  9. A lovely thoughtful, thought provoking post.
    Thank you!
    Jane x

  10. Very helpful post. Thank you very much.


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