Does Prayer Avail Anything?
"The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working." -- James 5:16
The emphasis of modern science upon unchangeable law has caused some to question the possibility of prayer having any effect on the affairs of a universe conditioned absolutely within law.
However, these misgivings of science disappear when we rightly understand the meaning and purpose of prayer and the relation of God to the world.
Prayer is not a means of persuading God to change His will or purpose. His purpose is fixed and unchangeable. We do not through prayer seek to influence His purpose, for everything we can rightly ask for He has already purposed to do. But we can influence His action, for He has made His action dependent on us, and prayer puts us in a position in which He can do for us and through us what He would not otherwise do.
Moreover, prayer does not require a God who is lawless. We witness every day changes effected in the direction of one law by the operation of another; as, for instance, the law of force acting against the law of gravitation in changing the direction of some material body. We do not marvel at this. It seems perfectly natural. Likewise it is just as natural for God to overrule one law by the use of another in answering prayer.
The prayer of a righteous man availeth much. It should be remembered, however, that the object of prayer is to get God’s will done, not the achievement of selfish ends, nor the gratifying of our every little whim and notion. Prayer is intended as a means of cooperating with God in working out His redemptive purposes in the world, and this should be remembered always when we pray.