Many moons ago, I graduated from Texas Christian University.  (Go Frogs!) Friends I made at TCU through the shared ministry and fun fellowship of Young Life have continued to walk by faith and remain inspirations to me.  I would like to introduce you to one of them and allow her own experience with prayer to encourage you — and your students.  This is re-posted with permission. Thanks, Laura!  (you can find more of Laura’s down-to-earth words of wisdom HERE.)

When You Pray and it Doesn’t “Work”

For 6 months I got used to waking in the middle of the night, prompted to pray for my brother, who was fighting cancer. I prayed with many others for healing. I prayed specifically, passionately and with complete faith in God’s power.

He died July 18th.

You’ve had a similar experience? Yeah, I thought so.

These days I can get downright snippy with God. Now I wake in the night, or my mind turns to Him through the day and I sometimes think, “Why bother? Why talk to God about the lesser things when He did not seem to care enough to fix this great big thing?”


Of course I know some of the “right” theological answers to this question.

Yes, David was ultimately healed and is alive and whole and free of pain with Jesus.

Yes, we live in a broken world and illness and death are a consequence of the fall…God is sovereign…Our minds are too small to grasp His grander plans…He will cause ALL things to work together for good to those who love Him…He is more concerned about our character than our comfort… Blah blah blah…


Sometimes when you FEEL in the “depths of despair” as Anne of Green Gables would say, you don’t care about the words.

But I keep praying. I keep talking to God and I’ll tell you why.

I keep praying for the same reason a child keeps talking to her parents after she hasn’t gotten her way.

There’s something deep inside me that still knows that God loves me and I am drawn to Him.

There is something in me that knows there is something bigger going on.

Prayer doesn’t “work” in the way we’d like it to. It doesn’t “work” as in we pray to get what we want. We pray to get what God wants.

I think we make the mistake of seeing prayer as transactional, when it’s primarily relational.

I still don’t know what to do with those verses that exhort us to ask and receive, be the widow badgering the judge, have faith to move mountains, but I can get on-board with this thought from Tim Keller.

We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows.  Tim Keller

Prayer makes more sense to me when I envision myself in a boat tethered to the shore (God) and prayer is the process by which I pull myself to it/Him – pull my will in line with His.


Still, I often feel tossed around by the huge waves of confusion. I squint to even see the shore, desperately trying to hold on to the rope that tethers me to to Truth. I have been reading Philip Yancey’s book on prayer and find I’m in good company.

“The only final solution to unanswered prayer is Paul’s explanation to the Corinthians: ‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.’ No human being, no matter how wise or how spiritual, can interpret the ways of God, explaining why one miracle and not another, why an apparent intervention here and not there. Along with the apostle Paul, we can only wait, and trust.” Philip Yancey

One thought on “When You Pray and it Doesn’t “Work”

  1. Hey Kathy! I think that post was so great – read the whole thing as well as the extra part. THANKS!



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