Before asking myself whether prayer works, let me first define my terms. Is prayer a lever for moving the universe according to my whims, or is it a tool for molding my will to God’s?

Do You Think There Is Such a Thing as a Successful Prayer Life?

The spring of 2019 showed up bleak and gray, but we barely noticed. The weight of waiting occupied every minute, with question marks bristling where daffodils had been delayed. An army of friends prayed for our family when we could not, waging war on our behalf, inquiring with kindness about obstacles that made no sense and resolution that did not come.

But then one day answers began to bloom. Seismic yeses from God felt like tectonic plates shifting beneath our feet, and the way before us was mercifully clear and certain.  In all the restless energy of waiting I had begun to feel like a failure—a failure at prayer! Then I wondered:  Is this arrival of clarity a sign of success?

Instructions for a Successful Prayer Life

In North America, we are preoccupied with success on every front. Fear of missing the mark drives us to seek out recipes that guarantee a good outcome. Ironically, though, while prayer is happening all over the place in Scripture, there is very little instruction on the generalities beyond “pray like this” and “go into your room and shut the door.” Instead, Jesus and the psalmists and the prophets were all busy doing the work of prayer, pouring out their hearts like water in supplication, celebration, or anticipation of what God would do next.

Jesus’s parable about the persistent widow in Luke 18 reveals the complexity of defining successful prayer, and today it’s my great joy to be sharing truth from that vignette over on the Redbud Post. I’d love it if you would CLICK HERE to read the post in its entirety.

When it comes to prayer, we are always beginners. God will not be harnessed by a formulaic method or a prayer-as-referendum mentality in which I force his hand with the right number of prayer partners storming heaven on my behalf.

And Now, Let’s Talk Books…

Good theology changes everything–the way we pray, the way we live, and even the way we die. In All Will Be Well, Lacy Finn Borgo has turned her background in spiritual formation toward teaching good theology to children. Weaving faith-filled wonder and the story of Julian of Norwich into the sorrow of a little girl who is also named Julian, the book portrays God as very present and very receptive to our urgent questions and our big emotions.

I’ve loved the historic words from Julian of Norwich for as long as I can remember, but I wondered how this somber story about a little girl whose grandmother is sick and dying would land on the hearts of my young grandchildren (ages 5 and 8). The timing for Rebecca Evans’s vivid illustrations couldn’t have been better because “the leaves blazing red, yellow, and orange in the late afternoon sun” were mirrored in the view outside our autumn window. Furthermore, Julian’s Mima communicates the love of God with both her words and her welcome, facilitating the transition from a good God to a trusting heart.

When children (and their parents and grandparents!) are slogging through a season of grief and loss, evidence for a quiet heart is hard to come by. But what if there is a loving God who orchestrates every single detail of our lives, and what if his motives toward us are perfectly pure and his plans for us are always good? Even with tears, solid truth about a good God enables us to arrive at the conclusion that “all will be well, all will be well, everything will be well.”

There are no pat answers offered in Borgo’s conclusion. Death is still the enemy, and good-byes are always excruciating on this broken ground, and yet we are cherished by grace and held close by God’s healing presence.

Holding You in the Light,

Michele Morin

Even with tears, solid truth about a good God enables kids and their parents to arrive at the conclusion that “all will be well, all will be well, everything will be well.” #AllWillBeWell #LacyFinnBorgo @IvpKids #JulianofNorwich

Free Resource: A Seven-Day Challenge!

Standing on the Fringes of Life

A Seven-Day Challenge of Scripture and Prayer to Pull You Away from the Fringes

I’ve created a seven-day challenge incorporating daily Scripture and prayer to help you begin moving toward the center of a living and powerful walk with God.

Last winter, I memorized John 15:1-8 and was struck and instructed all over again by the truth of God’s intense longing to be in relationship with me. He wants us! No question about it, but so often we behave as if we don’t want him.

Each day’s brief reading from John 15 is an invitation to abide with Christ, to pull away from the fringes and toward his heart. I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident followers of God and students of his word, and it’s my goal to provide resources to help you along that path. Subscribers receive them automatically, and you can receive your copy by simply entering your email and then clicking on the button below…

Success! You're on the list.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and an affiliate of The Joyful Life Magazine, two advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

2 thoughts on “Do You Think There Is Such a Thing as a Successful Prayer Life?”

  1. Wonderful post, Michele. “Is prayer a lever for moving the universe according to my whims, or is it a tool for molding my will to God’s?” This is such a good question. And I love how Peterson describes it: “Praying what we live and living what we pray.” That takes prayer out of the checklist/accomplishment category and places it into the realm of relational communication. Which is where it belongs, I think.


    1. Another Petereson concept that has shaped my devotional life is his unwillingness to differentiate between reading and praying. It changes everything when we pray our scripture reading back to God. I struggle with a real lack of “conversational feel” in my spiritual disciplines, so I find this to be very helpful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.