Author: Ron Graham
What Happens After We Pray?
—Prayer and Providence
Whether we pray, and how we pray, depends on what we believe will happen after we pray. We should believe, and expect, that God’s providence will act for our good, although in what sometimes seems to be a string of co‑incidences.
When we are praying, The Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are interceding with the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:26-34). But when we say "Amen" and rise up from our prayer, what happens next?
1 What the Bible Says Will Happen
Some people regard prayer as a pointless exercise resulting in little or nothing of value. But prayer results in things of immense value and is a most purposeful exercise.
Jude says that prayer is connected with keeping ourselves in the love and mercy of God (Jude 1:20-21). After we have prayed, we are fortified in faith; we are brought nearer to God, and that is no small thing. But there is more...
John says, ¶ "If we ask anything according to his will, God hears us, and if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, then we also know that we have the petitions that we asked of him"" (1John 5:14-15).
So after we pray, in due course, we are blessed with what we have asked for. The only condition or proviso in John’s statement is that we must ask for what is according to God’s will rather than opposed to it
Jesus himself said, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24).
It's No Co‑incidence
Notice that "You have received it" and "It will be yours" are two events. The thing you requested has been granted, but you might need to wait in faith and patience while a series of events unfolds to result in what you asked for. Now you have in full what you prayed for and it is yours to enjoy.
When some people see that series of events unfold, they call it co‑incidence or luck. We, on the other hand, call it providence. Prayer influences the providence of God.
2 What Happened to Esther
To better understand how providence works in our favour, we can consider the story of Esther.
NOTE: The Masoretic Text’s Hebrew Esther does not mention God or prayer. The Septuagint’s Greek Esther includes prayers of Esther and Mordecai and mentions God many times, but these additions are of uncertain origin.
Esther was a Jewish child of the Babylonian Captivity. She was an orphan adopted by her relative Mordecai. Her Jewish name was Hadassah (Esther 2:7) and she was of the tribe of Benjamin. She became queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes). She risked her life going unbidden into the presence of the king to plead with him to save her people from extinction.
When we see how wonderfully the events take unexpected turns, we cannot help but see God at work, causing all things to work together for good to save his people. This doesn't mean God made things easy for Esther. She had to make huge sacrifices in her life to co‑operate with God.
Esther experienced the kind of providence that helps us in our lives today. Now here are some points to consider, as demonstrated by Esther’s experience, concerning our own experience of God’s providence especially in answer to our prayers.
3 What Happens for Us Today
- God makes everything turn out well in the end, even when the odds are against it (Romans 8:28).
- Events do not always unfold smoothly or quickly.
- We need to contribute sacrificially toward the outcome.
- We shouldn't expect "signs and wonders". God has heard our prayer and is acting for our good. That is a miracle far more than enough.
- We should acknowledge that our lives are in God’s hands (James 4:13-17).
- We should also acknowledge that at the top of the list of good outcomes is the salvation of our souls beyond this earthly life (Hebrews 13:5-6,14).
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7 ESV).