Do My Prayers Make a Difference?

Of the five Ask Pastor John podcasts released this week, none was more played than episode 37 — “A Theology of Prayer in 3 Minutes.” Pastor John set personal prayer into the context of God’s unfolding redemptive plan and the final victory of God.

He was responding to one man who had lost confidence in the power of prayer and was asking, Do my personal prayers make any difference?

Pastor John responded to the question with a short theology of prayer by explaining the significance of the golden censers (bowls) which hold the prayers of the saints (see Revelation 5:8, 8:3–4). In part, Pastor John explained the meaning of the passages like this —

Those bowls have two functions. They are censers. They are like incense, and in the presence of God, that incense is really pleasing to him. God loves the aroma of the prayers of his people. Which means that if you are on your face crying out for a lost loved one, or for some difficulty in your church, that very act is pleasing to God. It is not wasted. Quite apart from the answer to that prayer, the prayer itself is precious to God. That is the first meaning.

Second, there’s going to come a day when those bowls are full. In other words, the billions upon billions of prayers that have been prayed — “Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come”— the last one is going to be prayed and God is going to look at that angel and say, “Pour it out on the earth.” And he is going to take the bowl of prayers, like fire, and throw it on the earth and the final purposes of God are going to be achieved.

And I think we need to preach to ourselves that our prayers are part of the causality of the final victory of God. He wouldn’t have asked us to pray that his kingdom come if he didn’t mean for our prayers to be an instrument in the coming of the kingdom.

So it is simply astonishing that when you think of the billions of times the Lord’s Prayer has been uttered, all of those times when it has been uttered in faith, God has put it in the bowl and it’s filling up and filling up. And the day is going to come when that bowl will be poured out as the consummation of the age. So no prayer is wasted.

You can listen to the entire episode here. We followed this episode with another prayer question: “God Hears My Prayers, So Why Should I Pray for Things Twice?” (episode 38).

Also this week we released a podcast on how we can be more evangelistically minded in our everyday lives (episode 36), why pastoral professionalism is not enough (episode 35), and why your pastor needs your prayers (episode 34).

Current List of Episodes

We've released 38 episodes to date. Here are the top-five most played episodes in the last 30 days:

  1. Fighting Porn Addiction with Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Episode 18)
  2. Does God Ever Withdraw His Presence from His Children? (Episode 19)
  3. Must Bible Reading Always End with Application? (Episode 26)
  4. Priorities for Youth Pastors (Episode 22)
  5. How Does Rape, Incest, and Threat to the Mother's Life Affect Your Pro-Life Stance? (Episode 31)

And here's a full list of avaliable episodes:

Tuning In

The Ask Pastor John daily podcast is a series of 3–8 minute conversations released on weekdays at 11am (EST) via the DG Facebook and Twitter feeds. We're currently hosting all the recordings on SoundCloud, a website that makes it easy to listen to several of the podcasts in one sitting. They’re also archived on the DG website.

Soon the podcast will be syndicated in iTunes, and we have plans to make these recordings more accessible to listeners through a forthcoming iPhone app.

We want to hear from you. To submit a question to Pastor John please include your first name, hometown, and question in an email to AskPastorJohn AT desiringGod DOT org.

We have started to receive requests from broadcasters asking to play these episodes over the airwaves, and we are happy to help make this possible. Please send us an email to the above mentioned address and we’ll get back to you.

Thanks for listening to the podcasts. We appreciate your engagement and interest.