By John David Hicks
“Prayer does not make any difference,” was the atheistic professor’s thesis at the University of California at Berkeley. He would prove it scientifically. The study would focus on people who had suffered a heart attack. After a person received emergency care at San Francisco area hospitals, doctors would ask: “Is anyone praying for you?”
After more than 2,000 interviews, more than 80 percent of the people who said that someone was praying for them recovered more quickly than those who said no one was praying for them. The professor was upset and reworded the question. Again, more than 80 percent of the people who said people were praying for them recovered more quickly than those who said no one was praying for them.
On a TV talk show, the professor said he did not believe in prayer until this study, and he defined prayer as sending out good, kind, loving “vibes” into the air. If the whole world would contemplate and think “peace,” he said, we would have peace.
“But how do you explain that more than 80 percent of the people who say that someone was praying for them got better quicker than those who said no one was praying for them?” the show’s host asked.
“I don’t know,” replied the professor. “All I know is, if I ever have a heart attack, I would want all the people out there to pray for me!”
When you see the value of prayer, you will pray as you ought.
Based on God’s grace and mercy, prayer is God’s invitation to ask for help. “Call to me,” the Lord says, “and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Note the command to call, to ask. Go to the sovereign of the universe, the source of everything, and talk to Him. He promises to answer. “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
The heart of prayer is to know and commune with God. His passion and values can come no other way. “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).