Is This a Throwaway Prayer?

No prayer is a throwaway. God is better. Lisanotes

Many of the words we say are throwaways. We talk to be talking. The content isn’t relevant or important. Just a blurb. Throwaway lines.

But our prayers? Is there such a thing as a throwaway prayer?

Wait in Line

The outside line was long and slow-moving. Mothers and a few fathers stood outside in the cold (and sometimes rain).

Their goal? Pick out free Christmas gifts for each of their children, specifically, a stuffed animal, a book per child, a new-in-the-package toy, and a stocking stuffer.

And a prayer.

I don’t know if they all appreciate that particular gift. Or if they just tolerate it. But no one turns it away when we offer a prayer of blessing as they wait in line at Manna House for Christmas.

My Spanish is poor, but when one quiet Hispanic lady urgently wanted to tell me something before we prayed, I did my best to understand.

In her broken English, she explained that she had been in this line four years earlier. And a young lady from our group had prayed for her.

Three months later, something happened. I was all ears.

But My Little Prayers?

Praying for person after person, only briefly learning their names and needs, can sometimes leave you with questions of your own.

  • Are my non-eloquent and often stumbling words adequate enough for this responsibility?
  • Do I know this person or their needs enough to be praying for them?
  • What if I pray for the wrong thing or make them feel awkward or harm their faith?

Is my prayer a throwaway prayer?

Why Every Prayer Matters

As I listened to the lady detail her story to me, I heard the answer: No. No prayer is a throwaway. No prayer is unimportant.

Every prayer matters because. . .

  1. God is listening.

Even when our prayers aren’t adequately heard or understood by others, God hears every word. When our message is incoherent even to ourselves at times, God still knows what we mean. God even pays attention to the thoughts underneath the words, hearing as his Spirit translates them into coherent requests.

He loves when we talk to him. He is honored by our requests.

  1. God knows what’s best.

Our prayers matter even if we ask for the “wrong” thing. We can trust our Father to answer in the best way. He is smart enough and good enough to give us what we really need, not just what we ask for. We won’t throw him off-track by begging for Job B if he’s already lined up Job A for us.

We don’t have to pray the answers. We just make the requests.

  1. God has power to act.

I’m sometimes reluctant to pray for someone because I know I can’t really help their situation. But isn’t that exactly why I need to pray? I can’t do much, but God can.

My words are just the smoke signal. His words make things happen.

Her Answered Prayer

The lady finished her story.

On that Christmas four years ago, she had recently experienced a miscarriage. She had been devastated. She had asked and received prayers about it.

Three months later, she was pregnant again. And this time she carried to term. Now she was here to bless her three-year-old daughter with Christmas gifts from Manna House.

She wanted to be sure someone knew. The prayer had been answered. Dios te bendiga.

And I was the blessed one to receive her story. Why? Maybe because four years ago, my own daughter was one of the young women praying over these moms. Could she have been the very one who prayed over this lady? Was it her prayer that was answered, a quick prayer in a moving line over a stranger she didn’t know?

Yes. Jenna confirmed it when I told her the story.

Every prayer makes a difference.

Because God is different. He’s not like us. He’s better. Wiser. Stronger.

May we never lose confidence to pray for others. Not because of who we are, but because of who God is.

No prayer is a throwaway.

* * *

Prayer can be a mystery to us. But it’s not to God. Please share your thoughts about prayer in the comments.

56 thoughts on “Is This a Throwaway Prayer?

  1. Diana

    Praise the Lord! I had goosebumps reading about the power of prayers. Prayer doesn’t need fluency in a language. God hears the groaning and knows the genuineness of the praying heart.

    Your neighbor from soaringwithhim

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I’m so grateful that God doesn’t need us to be eloquent in order to hear our prayers! He is the Master of understanding and action. We are blessed. Thanks for stopping by, Diana.

  2. Michele Morin

    Thanks for saying the truth and for illustrating it from a real life example. I keep reminding myself that God bends over backwards to hear our smallest prayer, and He meets us more than half way in this whole business of communication. I want to make the effort.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, he bends over backwards to hear. That’s a beautiful analogy, Michele. I’m visualizing how we as adults bend down to talk with small kids. We make every effort to hear what they are trying to say, and we interpret as best we can. God does the same with us, except he really understands. 🙂

  3. Liz

    OH, what a beautiful story!! What a blessing that God allows us to pray to Him, not to mention see Him work. I’m so thankful that when I don’t know what to say, the Spirit intercedes to pray on my behalf an in accordance with God’s will! Many blessings to you and your daughter for your faithful service and prayers!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I am so grateful too that God gives us these pictures of how important we each are to him. It’s a miracle I never want to take for granted! Blessings to you, too, Liz.

  4. Pam Ecrement

    I am so glad you shared this inspiring testimony. How important it is for us to be obedient and not question how or what God may or may not be doing because of or in spite of us. This was a great truth to share!

  5. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Tennyson said it best, in “The Passing Of Arthur”, the last poem in the cycle “The Idylls Of The King”:

    If thou shouldst never see my face again,
    Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
    Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
    Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
    For what are men better than sheep or goats
    That nourish a blind life within the brain,
    If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
    Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
    For so the whole round earth is every way
    Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

  6. Barbara H.

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s encouraging to know that momentary prayers that we don’t know accomplished anything were in fact heard and answered. Well, of course we know that by faith, but to actually hear of how it worked out in one instance is helpful! It’s such a blessing, too, that God will “interpret” our prayers as He sees best.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I so appreciate when God lets us see on this side of things that he is indeed listening and answering. It strengthens us to believe even more, and pray even more.

  7. Jean Wise

    Every prayer matters – yes! Yes! I too am starting my series on prayer on Thursday’s post. I plan on linking to your post – lots of wisdom and encouragement in your words. Thank you

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ll look forward to reading what you’ll say tomorrow about prayer! I appreciate the wisdom you so generously give us on your blog, Jean. Prayer is one of those mysterious “by faith” things we practice, but never quite can fully grasp.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Amen, Bill. We limit ourselves and God when we think God only hears the prayers of pastors and spiritual giants, but every prayer and pray-er matters to him. I appreciate the humility you show as a pastor yourself.

  8. June

    And the blessing just keeps on going . . . we may never know how our simple acts of obedience are used by our omnipotent and holy Father but they are used – for our good and His glory. What a beautiful, inspiring story, Lisa – thank you for sharing, sweet friend!

  9. BettieG

    Oh, this brought tears to my eyes, Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. How true, that God does exceedingly and abundantly above all we can ask or think. So, He will sort out all of our confusions and weaknesses as we pray. Oh, but He loves to hear us ask, doesn’t He? I am so thankful that the Lord let you be the one who got to hear the answer to the prayer that your daughter prayed. What a blessing!

  10. Misty

    Beautiful post! I love how you pointed out that we can be careless with our words, but that no prayer is ever wasted!

    Visiting today from #SaltandLightLinkup

    Blessings, Misty

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it makes it easier to pray when we realize that God isn’t analyzing every word for grammatical errors or theological excellency, but he is reading our hearts. Thanks, Misty.

  11. Sarah Geringer

    Beautiful story, Lisa! Glad I read it today. We talked about prayer last night in small group, and others shared their stories about how small prayers were answered in the past. Even small prayers can encourage faith so much. Sharing this today. Blessings to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m sure that was a faith-building time last night with your small group last night, Sarah! We all need to rehearse God’s faithfulness to each other more often.

  12. Betsy de Cruz

    Wow, how amazing that your daughter had prayed for her. And how wonderful that she returned to tell her story. Thanks for encouraging me. I’ve prayed many half-thought out, “what am I even saying?” prayers.

  13. Linda Stoll

    Beautiful. A blessed reminder that God’s always waiting for conversation with us.

    And here’s to the importance of sharing answers to prayer. What an encouragement we can be when we let others know that God did a fresh, new thing.

    Weekend joys to you, Lisa …

  14. Debbie Williams

    Beautiful story Lisa. Sometimes we never know how our prayers impact others. What a blessing you were able to hear that story.

    I’ve seen so many prayers answered and miracles from God. So thankful for prayer.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes getting older can be a bummer with our bodies, but on the plus side, yes, we’ve been blessed to see so many miracles as our years add up! I agree, Debbie.

  15. Jerralea

    Lisa, I’m so glad you shared this story with us! What a blessing! I bet Jenna was really encouraged to know her prayers bore fruit.

    I especially liked your line: “My words are just the smoke signal. His words make things happen.” What an interesting thought – prayers being smoke signals. I love the imagery in that.

  16. Ruth

    Wow! Great thoughts!
    I’ve wondered sometimes if I’m praying the wrong thing, and what if that makes the person I’m praying for stumble if God doesn’t answer the way I prayed. But praise God that He is listening, that He knows the best way to answer and help the person have greater faith (that’s not my job), and that He has the power to answer!
    I love how He sent this lady to your daughter and now to you, so you would both have the “rest of the story”! 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It sounds like we have some of the same thoughts, Ruth. I can analyze my own words too much at times, which can make me hold back. But thankfully God isn’t dependent on our words!

  17. Christy Mobley

    Lisa, I agree there is no throw away prayer. Every prayer does make a difference. Everyone needs that reminder and that God hears and answers every one. Good stuff.

  18. Ashley Davis

    Wow! What a story. I got chills!

    I’ve struggled with all of the points you made. Am I praying the right thing, am I offending them, etc. I finally realized that it is not about me at all. It’s about God. Like you said, He hears, and He knows what is best. I just have to trust that. It is still a struggle sometimes, but my views on prayer have changed so much over the years. Now I see praying for someone a privilege and honor. That I get to talk to God about them. A great responsibility, but also an honor.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “I finally realized that it is not about me at all. It’s about God.” Exactly, Ashley! Once we really get that deeply embedded into our soul, it makes all the difference.

  19. Donna Reidland

    What beautiful things to remember when we pray for that FaceBook request or some other brief encounter. As a pastor’s wife, I often pray for people I don’t really know or know well. I sometimes feel bad that I don’t remember their names later, but what an encouragement to remember that God never forgets and knows everything about them. Blessings!

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