We often hear the plea for “wishes and prayers” – when someone is in dire need. It’s a natural response from a heart desperate for help for the victim. For example:
Tweet by Britney Spears: Need all the wishes and prayers for my niece
FoxNews: Feb. 07, 2017 – 0:45 – Britney Spears asks fans to pray for her niece, the daughter of Jamie Lynn Spears
What pain and anguish for a loved one. Prayer and hope in God brings comfort. I am praying for little Maddie. My prayer is for full healing. “May it be full healing for little Maddie, oh Lord.” [Update 2021: “Maddie ultimately made a full recovery”.]
But what difference is there between a wish and a prayer?
Wishes are directed to people: people express conscience hope for the victim’s good. In a wish we trust in… what?
Prayers are directed to God: people express to God a request for His intervention for the victim’s good. In prayer we trust in God, that He will get involved and actually answer.
If it is only God that can intervene in a particular situation, then hope placed in wishes goes-out in vain. Nothing happens for victims from wishes when only God can help.
Wishes are sweet and tender and hopeful – but to what end? Our wishes and “thinking of them” can be an encouragement to the despairing. Surely. But what effect does a wish have on the victim? The wishes of mere people vanish in the air without effect. On the other hand, prayers to God can be effective and bring about healing and miracles. I’d rather one pray to God – than merely make a wish!
God has heard and answered the prayers of even the godless. He has extended His mercies to them. And actually, the first prayers to God are usually for salvation – and always from a godless person (of course)! The Bible says,
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:8
However our prayers are much more effective when we are yielded to Jesus, and pray to God from a sincere and contrite heart. We must yield to God:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – James 5:16
The Bible teaches that we can influence God! We can change the outcome of things we pray for — but, the Bible says there are parameters to effective prayer. And there are no guarantees. His will is wayyyy beyond our understanding.
If we are wicked, evil, vile… then it is highly unlikely that God will answer our request:
- “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” – Psalm 66:18
- “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
- “Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high. – Isaiah 58:4
It is smart to ask followers of Jesus to pray. Not so smart to ask the godless. Why would God respond to one who is avowedly “godless”?! But He does see our heart, and maybe He might see that you are sincerely turning to Him?… and He may answer you! Want your voice heard and responded to in heaven —every time? Turn to Jesus.