Have you ever prayed for a miracle? “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14-15 NASB).

Because God is unchanging, it is easy to wonder why we should pray. Is this passage saying that we can ask God for anything and He will miraculously give it to us? This seems unlikely based on the context. In 1 John 3:22, obedience to God’s commands and a willingness to serve God by doing what pleases Him are conditions for receiving. In the passage above from chapter 5, John also adds that what we ask should be in line with God’s will.

To enjoy the power of prayer, we must understand the purpose of prayer. God is not a genie in a bottle. He is an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good Being who desires to pour out His blessings on His people. Prayer is not our way of getting our will done in heaven. It is God’s way of getting His will done on earth (Matthew 6:9-10).

Prayer doesn’t change God, but it changes things. God is the unchanging Changer of all things. He is the unmoving Mover of all things. Consider this illustration by Dr. Tony Evans:

If I put a million dollars in your physical bank account, you are a guaranteed millionaire. But if you don’t know how to write a check, that which is guaranteed cannot be enjoyed. Too many of us who’ve got bank accounts full of God’s blessing are forgetting to sign our checks. We forget to draw from that spiritual reservoir, or we don’t understand how to draw from that spiritual reservoir to live the successful Christian life.”

Prayer is not our way of getting our will done in heaven. It is God’s way of getting His will done on earth.

Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago: Moody, 2009), 230.

We have just released a new Bible Study based on Jeff Bumgardner and Dr. Stephen Cutchins new book. Green Hearts: God’s Goodness in the Worst of Times. This study is a reflection of grief and is response to the tragic loss of Jeff Bumgardner’s 10-year old daughter Ella.

These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of the Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.

Lessons include:

Lesson #1 — Grief
Lesson #2 — Pain
Lesson #3 — Questions
Lesson #4 — Answers
Lesson #5 — Surprises
Lesson #6 — Grace
Lesson #7 — Faith