The program was a work of art, if I have to say so. It was an intricate weaving of processes that delivered results that still amazed the folks who used it a decade later. Yet one of the folks I'd been explaining it to still asked, "Does it work?"

I paused for a minute and then replied, "Well, that depends an awful lot on what exactly you're expecting it to do."

Oddly enough, I've been asked that question in my Christian life as well, usually about prayer. "Does it work?" I have to answer in the same way: "It depends an awful lot on what exactly you're expecting it to do."

The more I experience prayer, the more I realize that it's not magic. It's not a method by which we make God do what we want God to do. Often, like Jesus' answers to the Pharisees, it doesn't so much answer as it raises new questions that lead to new insights and new understanding.

In my most earnest times of prayer, I come out of it changed. I go into it more worried and distracted than Martha on her worst day. I come out of it with a sense of direction and focus. I go into it annoyed at someone who has wronged me in some way and come out of it with a sense of what I might do to continue that relationship in a better, more healthy way. Huh.

And there's one thing more:

I often come out of prayer with a sense of what I can do personally to start to be an answer to the very things I've been praying about. That's awesome and maybe just a bit annoying. I go to God expecting answers and God shows me how I can be part of the answer. Huh!

So, does prayer work? Yes it does (though you might have to rethink what you're expecting it to do).

And I encourage you to pray...consistently, as often as you can.

Just be aware that you'll probably be led to your own answer.

Grace and Peace,

~Russ Smith