I believe in the power of prayer. I’ve had enough evidence of answered prayer to know that it is effective. I love praying for people, and I believe in my heart that God answers prayer. In the book of James, Scripture tells us, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” I jokingly follow that verse up by responding, “I know it says a righteous man, but I pray anyway.” Although calling myself righteous is difficult because it feels more like I’m “self-righteous” when I apply that term to myself. The truth is I am righteous because the term righteousness describes my position before God. Not because of my good works, but because of my faith in God.

As true Christians, we can pray confidently to God because in His eyes we are “right” and “accepted” by Him, in spite of our sins.

So, the prayer of a Christian avails much with God, and He always answers our prayers. Oh, by the way, He doesn’t always respond the way we would like. So many people look at God as if He were a “genie in the bottle” or some kind of Divine Butler that exists only to be at our “beck and call.”

I’ve heard people say if you just have enough faith, God will give you all the desires of your heart. That’s sad, because where does one go when we don’t get what we want? They quit praying or even worse they quit having any type of fellowship with God.

You see, Christianity is not so much a religion as it is a personal, intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He speaks to us through His written Word; a book we call the Bible. We meditate on His Word and let Him talk to us. When we study His Word, we begin to understand what His will is for us.

We speak to Him through our daily prayers. This is genuine Christianity; having a relationship with our Lord and Savior. It’s just like your spouse. If you never spoke to your spouse or never listened to what they had to say, would you have a relationship with them?— of course not.

When you pray, what do you seek most for yourself, your spouse, family, friends and church? While asking God for health, happiness, financial stability and solutions to problems may be important, you could be missing the genuine blessing and life-changing power that prayer offers to those who pray for the right things. God always answers the prayers of those who are His. He may answer, “Yes.” He may answer, “No.” He may answer, “No, not now, but later.” Or He may just give us what we want and answer, “Yes, but you’re going to wish I had answered ‘No.’”

My point is, He always answers prayer.

See, we must be careful that our prayers and God’s will align with each other. Though God does care about the little things in life, He cares more for the spiritual parts of our lives. He has a plan for your life. You are not here at this time in history by mistake.

Jeremiah 1 tells us that He knew us before He formed us in the womb and that He had a plan for us. In that plan is a place for prayer that lines up with His will.

Prayer moves God, through which He moves us in response.

There is no better way to live our life here on earth than to be in fellowship with God, trusting Him regardless of the circumstances in our lives. One of the things God can’t do is lie. He is holy and lying would be totally against His nature. He has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He is always available to have fellowship with Him. He desires to hear from us.

Prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines which fellowship is accomplished. He loves the individual prayer, and He loves when His children gather together in corporate worship and pray.

We have an opportunity to experience individual and corporate worship on the National Day of Prayer. So, on Thursday, May 2, spend a little extra time praying, and if you can, join with others to pray corporately.

God bless.

Leigh Felton is pastor of Boydton United Methodist Church.