Does Prayer Actually Work?

When I was 12, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer. I remember praying and praying for God to heal her. I also remember being angry with God after she passed away. I thought He didn’t answer my prayers to make her better. I remember having the thoughts that maybe prayer doesn’t actually work. I was only 12 at the time, but even as an adult there have been times I wondered, does prayer actually work?

Sometimes our prayers don’t get answered the way we are hoping for. The cancer comes back and your loved one passes away. You are struggling as you face the heartbreak of another miscarriage. You didn’t get the job you really needed in order to turn your finances around. The list of what seems like unanswered prayers could go on and on. Does that mean those prayers didn’t work? Or could it be that God heard and answered your prayer, just not in the way you thought was best?

I love the way The Message Bible paraphrases this verse from Proverbs 3:5–6, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one that will keep you on track.”

Instead of waiting for God to answer my prayers in the way I think is best, I’ve learned that when I pray the best thing I can do is trust that God hears and He knows what is best for me. If our trust is in God and our confidence is in who He says He is, we can pray with faith and know that our prayers not only work, but God is moving in the unseen on our behalf, and sometimes the answers to our prayers look different than we thought.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20 NLT

Prayer does work, and God wants to hear your prayers. Trust that even though God may not answer the way you hope, he’s a good Father who always has his best for you in mind.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV

7-Day Prayer Devotional


Written by Jaclyn Del Vescovo.

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