Recently there have been letters to the editor concerning the effectiveness of prayer. Some say we must prove prayer works.
Does prayer work? If by “work” you mean it always gets us what we want, then it does not. Jesus prayed not to have to go to the cross, but he was crucified. Paul the apostle prayed for a “thorn in the flesh” to be removed, and it was not. I am a preacher and have always prayed, but my wife has had cancer, and our first child was still-born.
A better question might be: “What is the purpose of prayer?” The main purpose is to enable us to start and deepen a relationship with God. God wants a relationship with us. He proved so by sending Jesus to the cross, so that we sinners might have a relationship with a holy God. We enter a relationship with God when we ask him to forgive us and let Jesus come into our lives. We deepen that relationship when we pray, whether we are praising and thanking God, confessing our sins, committing our lives to his control or asking him for something.
Based on a relationship with God: Jesus prayed to glorify God, and he did, through his death and resurrection; Paul requested others to pray that he would effectively proclaim the Gospel, and he did; my prayers, sometimes answered the way I want and sometimes not, have enabled me to deepen my connection to God. In this sense, prayer does work.