Do prayers really work?

15 Aug 2013 by Marcus Mallette in Sojourner’s Tales

The 5th of August seemed to close in inexorably on me like a man trying to hold back the sea’s tide with a tablespoon. I’d scheduled that date to take my CompTIA Security+ certification examination. No matter how much I studied I felt this sinking feeling that I just didn’t have enough time to prepare for the test. I was nervous about the exam and prayed about it asking for God’s help every day as the date drew closer and closer.

When the date arrived I was strangely at peace knowing that if God truly wanted me to pass this certification process then He would help me through it, and yet there were these occasional doubts that kept popping up in my mind. No matter what I did those doubts kept appearing. When I prayed about those doubts I got a very strange answer, “ask your Christian friends at work to pray for you.” Despite the fact that I’d been praying for positive results on the test, I hadn’t asked anyone else to pray for me, nor had I told anyone about my doubts. I made up my mind to call some of my friends, unfortunately every time I tried to pick up the phone to dial one of them something interfered. Most of the day went by until there was a lull in the workload and I was finally able to talk to my friends. Both of them agreed to pray for me and offered words of comfort and support about the upcoming exam.

Later that evening as I sat in a chair facing a computer in the testing center those doubts came flooding back a hundred fold. There were multiple times during the test when I felt an almost overwhelming urge to give up, to just guess at the rest of the questions on the exam without reading them and to walk out of the testing center. I’ve never experienced such an intense sense of resignation. Every time the feeling that I should just bow to the inevitable came over me another sensation immediately followed it. The first time it happened I literally glanced to my left to see whether someone had snuck up behind me and laid a hand on my shoulder. The sense that someone was there never went away as I glanced at the clock and then turned back to face the computer screen and the next test question. When the impression that I was defeated came to mind again the pressure on my shoulder seemed to increase as though someone was leaning forward to whisper in my ear, “It’s ok, you can do it. Just keep going.” Each time this happened my mind cleared, I was no longer anxious, and I continued answering the questions to the best of my ability. Finally when I clicked on the last question of the test I was immensely relieved to find that I’d passed the exam.

The next day when I was telling my friends about my testing experience, one of them said, “It’s so strange that you described your feelings that way.” When I asked, “Why?” She replied, because I specifically prayed that God would place His hand on your shoulder and comfort you during the test.” What was even more interesting was the fact that when we compared the times of the occurrences that I’d experienced we found out that her prayers had occurred at the same times that I’d gotten such strong feelings of resignation followed by that comforting whisper in my ear.

The Bible tells us over and over that through prayer we will be answered. Some examples of this promise can be found inHebrews 5:7, 2 Corinthians 1:10-12, and Psalm 91:15.

Hebrews 5:7 tells us that During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Paul told the Corinthians how he was delivered, as he puts it, from deadly peril in 2 Corinthians 1:10-12 (NIV)He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

And in Psalms 91:15 God tells us, He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

Over and over throughout the Bible God gives us examples of prayer and response; that He will be with us during those times. He shows us through His word that we are to pray not just for ourselves but for others. I am very thankful that my friend prayed for me during my test. Never before had I experienced such an overwhelming sense of defeat, nor had such instant relief as when I felt that calm peaceful whisper urging me to continue. Whether I would have passed that exam without my friends prayers to bolster my spirit I’ll never know. But I am thankful that God used this situation to help me learn to trust Him and to share my needs with others.

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