Do prayers affect outcomes? We wouldn’t pray if we didn’t believe they did. From the testimony of scripture and my own personal experience, I can say with absolute certainty, yes, prayers make a difference. I whole heartedly agree with James when he said:
“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” (James 5: 16-18, The Message)
Praying for Oneself
“Prayer is weakness leaning on omnipotence.” W.S. Bowd
As I drove away from the doctor’s office yesterday I felt like crying. And I did a little. I had just been to the cardiologist who gave me the results of three heart tests I had done two weeks ago. I already knew I have irregular heartbeats and was put on … medication but the tests also showed my heart is weak and functioning at 35 % [ejection fraction] rather than a much higher percentage. So I was also put on another heart med .… So I felt my throat tighten up and I silently cried out to the Lord as I drove away …. My cardiologist said she doesn’t know if the weakening of my heart is related to the chemotherapy I received (there are two drugs which I did receive that can cause heart problems). Before my cancer surgery last February I had heart tests done and they came back normal. My current test results are being sent to my oncologist …. I am not overburdened with this news but I am saddened. A feeling of mild sadness lays on me. I think it is similar to what the psalmist may have felt sometimes when he would say, “How long, Lord?” I really can’t describe my feelings. I only know how I respond to my feelings, and that is to cry out to God, who hears. Sometimes I don’t even have words; I don’t even know what I am feeling to be able to form words. But that is ok, because he listens to my heart. I don’t need words. He gives me peace. I am praying and asking God to heal me of these conditions, strengthen my heart and regulate the beats. (http://jacquesjourney.blogspot.com/ brackets and emphasis mine).
Somewhat different from intercessory prayer which focuses on praying for others, is prayer for our own selves, asking God about things which are dear to our hearts or for needs which are sorely felt. How often I have cried out to God for myself!
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time—waking and sleeping. It does not change God—it changes me.” Attributed to C.S. Lewis.