– E.M. Bounds
Prayer Changes Circumstances
James declared that “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b), so if “anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (James 5:13a), “and the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick” (James 5:15a). This is not a guarantee that everyone who is sick will be healed but that prayer does change circumstances, as with the cost of Elijah, who “was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth” (James 5:17).
Prayer Changes People
The prayers of a Roman Centurion changed his life forever, as we read in Acts 10:3-5: “About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, ‘Cornelius.’ And he stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ And he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter.’” When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ home, all who were assembled there heard Peter preach that Gospel, and they were all saved (Acts 10:48). So clearly prayer changes people; in fact, it can change their eternal destiny!
Prayer Changes Us
How does prayer change us? It changes us by changing people’s lives like Cornelius, who today is with the Lord, for he prayed to God–his receiving eternal life changed him forever! Wouldn’t you say that changes people? Prayer changes circumstances, as when “Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5). While the church was “gathered and were praying…Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door” (Acts 12:12-13), and that surely strengthened the church’s faith. It changes us when God answers our prayers and even by unanswered prayer because God knows what is better for us than we do, for we don’t always know what to pray for (Rom. 8:26).
Prayer changes circumstances, prayer changes people’s lives, and prayer changes us. We know that God hears our prayers and answers them, but He answers according to His will in one of four ways: “yes,” “no,” “not yet,” or “I have something better for you.” I really believe that prayer changes us more than anything else, perhaps because we learn to pray for God’s will and try to live within His will, which accomplishes a lot.