How Prayer Really Works


Alli WorthingtonBy Alli Worthington

It’s not easy to admit this to you, but I forget to pray. I’ve always felt God loves me and known he was intimately involved in the details of my life, but I forget he wants me to talk to him. I know he knows my thoughts and the intent of my heart and has guided my future, so talking to him sometimes seems optional.

What I discovered on those Wednesday nights in the upstairs classrooms at the end of a long hallway at Long Hollow Baptist Church was what I had been missing all these years. I discovered a God who wants to partner with us and invites us into an adventure with him but who also patiently waits for us to call down the resources of heaven and join him.

Jesus prayed continually and proactively, and heaven opened up because of it.

When Jesus prayed, the blind could see, the paralyzed walked, the mentally ill were given a sound mind, and even the sea became a path to walk on. Prayer was Jesus’s principal language.

Jesus knew well what would happen to him. He knew he was on earth to bring heaven and earth together for a few short years. He knew his mission was to sacrifice himself on the cross for our sins. He defeated death, hell, and the grave to make a way to eternal life for all who live for him.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, How to Fight Fear, Wrestle Worry, and Allay Anxiety: An Interview with Alli Worthington]

He knew every second of his life, and he still prayed constantly. Why in the world had I lived so much of my life not talking to God daily?

For too long I viewed God’s will for my life as static and done—my actions would ultimately have no effect on his will. If he wanted it, it would happen, and that was that. And my prayer life showed it.

During a season of study, I discovered a God who responds to our prayers and has even changed his mind because of his people’s prayers. Moses was able to change God’s mind when God was going to destroy the people of Israel because of their sin (Exodus 32). The Israelites were basically all of us, always doubting, forgetting, and complaining, and this time they really blew it. While Moses was spending time with God, the people melted all their gold and formed a cow to worship instead of worshiping God. God was ready to wipe them all out and start over, but Moses changed God’s mind.

Yes, you read that right. The prayers of Moses changed the mind of God.

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they
are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger
may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will
make you into a great nation.”

But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,”
he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom
you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?
Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he
brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them
off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger;
relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your
servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your
own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars
in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised
them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” Then the
Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he
had threatened (Exodus 32:9–14).

God didn’t change his mind because Moses knew better. God wasn’t wrong and then saw the light. God is omniscient. He knows all. He changed his mind because he loved Moses and had compassion for people who deserved wrath.

God moves based on our prayers. Yes, prayer changes us, and that is important, but prayer actually changes things. God’s character will never change, but he can and does change his mind based on our interactions with him. His mind will never be changed to something that is opposed to his plan for our lives, and we may never understand why some prayers are not answered the way we hoped they would be. But what I do know is God is always listening, he cares about what we care about, and he moves on our behalf.


Standing StrongTaken from Standing Strong: A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Adversity and Living with Confidence by Alli Worthington. Click here to learn more about this book.

You can’t break a woman who draws her strength from God. God made you to stand strong in any adversity, and this book will show you how.

We live in a culture that constantly tells you who you should be as a woman. You are told that you are not enough and that you don’t have what it takes—you are asked, “Who are you to dream big?”

For the woman who longs to break free from what holds her back, bestselling author Alli Worthington offers a no-nonsense, guilt-free guide to take back your life from self-doubt.

In Standing Strong, Alli comes alongside as your guide as you:

  • Eliminate, once and for all, the lies that keep you from being who God made you to be
  • Become an unbreakable woman who finds her strength from God for any adversity
  • Gain strategies for tackling the obstacles of self-doubt, fear, and insecurity
  • Find the confidence to say yes and amen to God’s call on your life

You are stronger than you think, and you are worth more than you could ever imagine. So let go of the guilt, shake off the shame, and fend off your fears as you fight with your faith. It’s time to remember who you are: a woman God has called to partner with him—to be a fierce force for good in the world to the glory of God.

Alli Worthington is known for her straight-talking encouragement and practical tools that help women reach their dreams in business and life. Author of The Year of Living Happy, Fierce Faith, and Breaking Busy, she is a well-known speaker, podcaster, and business coach.

Her no-nonsense, guilt-free take on business, family, and balance have led to multiple appearances on The TODAY Show and Good Morning America.

Alli lives with her husband, Mark, and their five sons outside of Nashville with the only golden retriever who refuses to retrieve.

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