The Power of Prayer

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (MT 6:8)

In this case, we were asking Him for a house. I was about halfway through my first pregnancy, dreaming of decorating a nursery for our new daughter. My phone buzzed every time a new home hit the market, and I was sneaking out of work early to meet our realtor for showings.

We spent months in a house-shopping grind, but met rejection at every turn. With a tight budget, trying to stay in Dallas near family and work, the homes available to us were scarce, and offers highly competitive. I had even started leaving cookies and handwritten notes on the doorsteps of the homes we were trying to buy. “Please God, please give us this house,” I pleaded each time. Each time, our offer was rejected.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Finally, we gave up. We wrote a prayer and committed to saying it twice a day. We prayed, “We want to know what kind of people you want us to be. We want to know how you would like us to invite people into our home, how much space you think is necessary, and what type of home will make us happy, active, and prayerful people.” The prayer ended, “Please teach us to pray that your will be done, and help us accept your will when you move our hearts.”

Three days later, a friend called us. He knew someone selling a 1920s bungalow in Belmont Addition, and wondered if we’d be interested. I told Grant no -- there was simply no chance we could afford that type of historic home in such a desired neighborhood.

Just months later, we carried our first daughter into that very home, which turned out to be even more perfect than we could have imagined.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the Father knows what we want before we even ask him. And the Church tells us that God’s will is unchanging. So why should we bother petitioning him at all?

Because the power of prayer is not that it changes God; it’s that it changes us. No matter what we request, petitioning acknowledges God’s sovereignty, submits our heart to His will, and gives Him glory.

Sometimes, God wants to give us a gift, but He might insist we first spend time in prayer asking for it because we won’t be ready to receive the gift until our hearts are changed. Until Grant and I understood and embraced that where we lived was really about how God wanted to use our family in our community, we weren’t ready for our bungalow.

Other times, God may not give us what we ask of Him, but prayer turns our suffering into sanctification. We may ask him to cure an illness, send us a soul mate, or spare us the loss of a loved one, but for reasons we don’t understand, God does not grant our request. To pray, in spite of such a trial, is a holy act of trust and submission that gives glory to God. Such prayers often have the miraculous effect of helping us see Christ suffering with us and infusing us with the hope of the Resurrection.

“Glorify the Lord,” urges the Psalmist, no matter your distress. Not every prayer ends in a bungalow. But everyone who gives glory to God will surely be saved “from all their distress,” their faces “radiant with joy.”

Author: Cynthia Schmidt, Community Service and Social Justice


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