By Deborah Coty

I’ve just finished doing something that made me feel bad. Really, really bad. I immersed myself in a vat of scalding pain.

Someone else’s pain.

The shell-shocked parents who lost their beautiful 24-year-old daughter to suicide with no warning. No symptoms. No good-byes.

The mom who went in to wake up her 21-year-old son for work and found him not breathing.

The writer friend my age who suffered a debilitating stroke that will alter her entire life.

I immersed myself in their pain and I did it intentionally. Yesterday, today, and I’ll do it tomorrow too. Why? Because I wholeheartedly believe Papa God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:12, “Call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you,” (NIV).

I have no idea how prayer works or even why. I just know that Papa God wants me to do it and do it a lot (“Pray continuously,” 1 Thes. 5:17). In fact, there are over 400 verses in the Bible encouraging us to pray, every day in every way. 

Prayer is one of those exquisite mysteries of faith … that the Creator of All Things would actually want our input and for us to tell Him (even though He already knows) our desires and petitions, blows my everlovin’ mind.
Yet He does. And He listens, just like He promised.

My own experience has taught me that, and the recent experience of my friend Cheryl verifies this truth.

Cheryl, who is her church pianist, works nights at a laboratory. Cheryl was asked to play piano for the funeral of a church friend at 11 a.m. on a weekday. She knew it would be tough, but without complaining that this sacrificial act of love would occur in the middle of her “night,” Cheryl rushed home from work at 8 a.m. and set her alarm for 9:30. She collapsed into bed and was asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.

Cheryl was so wiped out that she slept right through her alarm. But she suddenly awoke at 10:45, fully alert and ready to leap out of bed. She made it to the funeral just in time.

After the service, a casual acquaintance approached Cheryl. “I just wanted to tell you,” the woman said, “that when I woke up this morning, I felt strongly led to pray for you. I don’t know why, but I just kept praying that God would help you in some special way today.”

Cheryl was amazed as she realized that this woman’s prayers had awakened her. Her petitions to the Lord had served as the catalysis for allowing Cheryl to serve Papa God and her grieving friends.

Yep, prayer always matters. Whether we’re praying for a casual friend for some reason we can’t fully comprehend or for someone who is hurting so badly we must allow our hearts to break alongside theirs … prayer always matters.