As a follower of Jesus Christ, your most powerful asset and greatest privilege is prayer. Dr. Stanley explains how important your prayer life is and why God wants you to have confidence and assurance wherever you go to Him.


CC by Aberdeen Captioning 1-800-688-6621

male announcer: “In Touch”
with Dr. Charles Stanley,

celebrating 45 years
of God’s faithfulness

and sharing the
gospel worldwide.

Next on “In Touch,”
“Does Prayer Influence God?”

Dr. Charles Stanley: As a
follower of Jesus Christ,

what is your most
powerful asset?

What is your greatest privilege?

And what is the most practical
gift God has ever given you?

Well, the answer to all three
of those questions is prayer.

And sometimes we
take that for granted.

We just sorta think, “Well,
you know, I can always do

it when I need to.”

And if you ask most anybody,
“Do you believe in prayer?”

They’re gonna say yes.

If you ask them, “Do you pray?”

More than likely,
they’re gonna say yes.

And if you ask them,
“To whom do you pray?”

They’re going to say, “To God.”

And then you ask them, “Well,
tell me about your God,”

and you’re gonna get all kinds
of unbiblical, hazy,

fuzzy answers about who God is.

And one of the circumstances
that surrounds that is the

questions and the doubts that
often times creep up in people’s

lives, and they think,
“Well, I do believe in God,

and I do pray, but.”

And what happens is instead of
having a prayer life of faith,

they have a prayer
life of “hope so.”

They pray and hope so.

They make their
request and hope so.

They talk to God about their
needs, their desires,

and then they hope so.

God never intended our prayer
life to be a “hope so”

kind of prayer life.

He intended it to be a life of
confidence and assurance and

absolute steadfastness, that
we can come to Him, make our

request, believe in our heart
that our Heavenly Father is a

God of love and of power and of
grace and of goodness, and that

He’s there to hear and answer
the prayers of His children.

That’s what He’s up to.

That’s the kind of God He is.

How do we get to Him?

Through His Son, Jesus Christ.

It is the most awesome privilege
you and I have to be able to

talk with Him, listen to Him,
and know that out of love,

He’s speaking to our heart.

So, what I’d like to do in this
message is I want to deal with

this whole issue of this:
“Does Prayer Influence God?”

Does it or does it not?

And so, in the process of doing
so, I want to answer about four

little sticky questions that
oftentimes are sorta laying

back there in our minds.

And when we pray, once in a
while they’ll crop up, and

when they do, they diminish our
faith at the moment when our

Heavenly Father wants us to
come to Him with confidence

and assurance and boldness.

So, I want to clear that up.

So, I want you to turn, if you
will, to a very familiar passage

in the Sermon on the Mount,
seventh chapter of Matthew, and

beginning in the seventh verse.

Some of the simplest things that
Jesus ever said about prayer.

And oftentimes people have the
idea, “Well, all I have to do

is just ask, and I’ll get it.”

But what you have to remember
is this, that the purity of our

heart, listen, the purity of our
heart affects the response

of God to our petitions.

Listen to what He says, verse
seven of Matthew seven:

“Ask, and will be given to
you; seek, and you will find;

knock, and it
will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks receives;
and he who seeks finds; and to

him who knocks it
will be opened.”

Then He asks the question: “Or
what man is there among you,

who when his son asks for a
loaf, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask for a fish,
he will not give him

a snake, will he?

If you then, being evil, know
how to give good gifts to your

children, how much more will
your Father who is in heaven

give what is good to
those who ask Him!”

That’s the kind of God He is.

He is a good God who desires to
give His children good things.

Now, there are about four
questions I want to answer,

four little haunting questions
that sorta lay back in our mind

that sometimes causes a problem.

And so, oftentimes people
will respond, and they will say,

“Well, if these things
are true, then why?”

So, let’s look at
about four of them.

And I want you to listen
carefully so you’ll be sure

you hear what I say and
not what I don’t say.

Here’s the first one.

Somebody says, “Well, if
God already knows all of my

needs–you say He’s omniscient,
He knows all of my needs.

If He knows all of my needs,
then why do I need to talk to

God about something when
He knows it all anyway?”

Well, let’s settle one thing.

Number one, you’re
not informing Him.

You’re not coming
with information.

And so, therefore, we’re to pray
to Him even though we know He

says, “Your Father knows what
you need before you ask Him.”

Why should you ask Him?

Because here’s what you’re
doing: you’re honoring God.

You’re honoring Him as
the source of your needs.

You’re honoring Him as the
resource for all your

desires and your needs.

And what you’re doing is you’re
honoring Him by asking Him.

He wants us to ask Him.

Otherwise, what do we do?

We take it for granted.

When things are going well, I
wonder how often you stop to

really and truly thank God.

When do we start being
concerned about our health

and thank Him for it?

When we are sick.

When do we start being
thankful for where we live?

When something happens to it.

What we drive?
When something happens to it.

Who our friends are?
When suddenly they’re gone.

You see, God wants us to ask.

He wants us to ask because
what it says is, it says,

“We understand who You are.

We know that You’re
the resource, and

so we’re coming to You.”

He says, “You have
not because you ask not.”

Listen, just because God knows
your needs is not the sign that

because He knows it,
He’s going to meet them.

You don’t ask Him?
Why not?

Because you either take
Him for granted or you’re

too prideful to ask Him.

You say, “Well, I
don’t believe God–

I don’t want to bother God.”

Let me ask you, how can
you bother omniscience?

You can’t bother God.

Well, you say, “Well, I don’t
think God’s interested in

those little things in life.”

Like what, for example?

Listen, if it’s something that
you find that you would like

to have an answer for,
God is interested.

You need wisdom and
direction something?

God’s interested.

There’s some need in your
life, whether it’s financial,

physical, material,
relational; whatever it is,

God’s interested.

He cares about what’s
going on in your life.

So, just because He knows
is not a sign not to pray.

Second question I think
that often comes up is this.

If God has already predetermined
what He’s going to do in a given

situation, why should I pray?

Looks like that’s a
total waste of time.

If He’s already determined
what He’s gonna do,

why should I pray?

There’s a very good reason, two
good reasons why we should

pray when God has already
predetermined exactly what He’s

gonna do in a situation.

Number one, think about it.

When you and I are praying about
something that naturally God

already knows what He’s
gonna do–why should I pray?

Here’s the reason.

Because as you and I begin to
pray, whatever God is up to,

what He’s going to do is gently,
patiently, quietly, sometimes

quickly, sometimes over a period
of time, He’s going to begin to

work in our will and our desire.

And what happens is He brings
us into harmony with His will so

that when He does what we ask
Him to do, or He does what He

has chosen to do, we’re gonna
be in harmony with His will.

There’s no peace
where there’s no harmony.

You can’t have peace with
God when you’re out

of harmony with Him.

So, let’s say, for example, your
friend is sick, very, very sick.

And does God know
what He’s gonna do?

Yes, He does.

Well, if God already knows what
He’s gonna do, then why should I

talk to God about it when
He’s already made up His mind?

You don’t know
what He’s gonna do.

And secondly, let’s suppose,
for example, that God says–

that God knows He’s gonna take
that person off the scene,

gonna call him home
or call her home.

Well, you say, “God already
knows; why should I pray?”

Because when God begins to work
in our life and brings us into

harmony with His will, what He’s
doing is preparing us, listen,

preparing us with the awareness
of His presence so when we walk

through that stormy
valley, we’re gonna have peace.

That’s one way.

A second reason is this, and
that is sometimes when God

already knows what He’s gonna
do, and He wants us to pray

because you may be the very
instrument that God’s gonna

use to bring it to pass.

Let’s say, for example,
your friend is sick.

God burdened you deeply, and
you begin to cry out

to God for their healing.

Well, at first you don’t know
whether it’s the will of God or

not, but the longer you pray,
the stronger you become in your

feelings, and the more you just
believe within your heart

God wants to heal them.

And what I want
you to see is this.

God uses you as, listen,
uses you as the instrument.

Could He do it without you?

Surely, He could.

But He uses us as
the instrument.

Then what happens?

God becomes
glorified in the process.

Our faith is strengthened.

Then what are we doing?

We’re motivated to then pray
stronger, more faithfully,

more often about other
situations and circumstances.

So just because He has
determined what He’s going

to do does not mean that you
and I should not pray.

Because He want–listen, God
works in cooperation with us.

That is, many things
He does through us.

There are lots of things
He could do without us.

For example, He could get
the gospel to the whole world

without any of us, but He’s
chosen through the preaching

of the gospel, the singing of
the gospel, the written Word

or whatever it might be, that’s
His chosen way to bring people

to a saving knowledge
of Jesus Christ.

And so, prayer has this
awesome aspect to it that

I think often times we forget.

Then there’s another question
that oftentimes comes up, and

that’s this, and that is: Does
the success, listen, does the

success of God’s eternal
decrees depend upon our prayers?

Now, what is
God’s eternal decree?

That’s simply this: God’s
plans that He before creation

determined to bring
about regardless.

That is, there are some
things God’s going to

do no matter what.

Pray or not pray,
He’s gonna get it done.

And so, we think about
some of His decrees.

You think about, for example,
He chose Abraham, Isaac,

Jacob, his twelve sons,
the nation of Israel.

God chose them as His
chosen people, and He says,

“Here’s what I’m gonna do.”

And my friend, it doesn’t make
any difference what goes on in

this world and how many
councils meet and how many wars

are going; it doesn’t
make any difference.

When God decrees something,
He’s going to get it done.

And so, therefore, our prayers
have absolutely no effect on

those things that God has
predetermined that He

will do unconditionally.

Now, there are some
things that are conditioned.

For example, He says, “If my
people who are called by

My name shall humble themselves
and pray,” then He says,

“and repent of their sins,”
he says, “then I’ll hear

from Heaven and
heal their land.”

That’s conditioned upon what?
If they pray.

But there are some things that
God says, “This is what’s gonna

happen, no if, ands, buts,
and no prayer’s gonna

have any effect on it.”

So, is God influenced in
His decrees by our prayers?

Absolutely not, have absolutely
no effect upon them whatsoever.

Some things He will
do no matter what.

But that’s not
where our problem lies.

Because you see, suppose–in
other words, if we’re not to

pray about those things that
God has decreed, those

predetermined things that He
predetermined long time ago,

can’t do anything about that.

But you and I are responsible
for our life, and if we don’t

pray, what are the consequences?

If we don’t pray about our
life, there are consequences.

We fall into sin, we become
discouraged, we get depressed,

we become fruitless
and barren in life.

Our life doesn’t count
as it ought to, why?

Because you see, prayer is the
thing that keeps us connected.

In other words, prayer
is like that power line.

And where there’s prayer,
there’s power; and where

it’s prayerlessness,
there is no power.

And you keep wondering, “Well,
why is it I keep falling into

sin, and why can’t I do
this, and why aren’t my sermons

effective, or why aren’t my
witnesses effective, and why

don’t I understand this,
and why this and why that?”

I’d ask you a simple question.

How much time do you spend
before the Father seeking wisdom

and guidance and direction
and His power in your life?

And listen, His insights into
His Word, and the strength to do

what you know that God wants you
to do, that’s the power line.

You cut it off and
you’ve got a problem.

And what I’m talking about
are those things that

short-circuit the power line.

We doubt: “Well, if God already
knows, why should I pray?

Well, if He’s already
determined, what

difference does it make?”

It makes all the difference
in the world because we’re

responsible for our own life,
for our own actions

and lack of actions in life.

And when you get connected with
Him in your prayer life and it

becomes the heart and core of
what’s going on inside of you,

you know what’s gonna happen?

You’re gonna have a peace and
joy and contentment, and listen,

God’s gonna begin to use
you in people’s lives.

And you say, “Well, I
want to be used of God.”

Then start praying.

Now, don’t pray this.

Don’t pray, “Oh
God, please use me.”

Here’s what you pray.

You listening?
Say amen.

Here’s what you pray:
“God, get me fit to be used.”

You know what He’ll do?

He’ll wear you out.

You get fit to be used, and
He’ll go to work in your life.

So, you got a choice.

You can live your life selfishly
to yourself, doing your own

thing, look back over the years
and think, “What happened?”

And here, the Bible talks
about God wiping away all tears.

You know what’s gonna
make us cry in Heaven?

I can’t prove this, naturally.

None of us know
exactly what’s gonna happen,

but I have a sneaking suspicion.

One glimpse of
what we could have done,

who we could have been,
what we could have accomplished,

how we could have impacted other
people’s lives, and we didn’t;

when I think about anything
that should make us tear up

in the judgment, even
though it’s a judgment

of rewards, that would be it.

Now, there’s one last question.

Does our prayer
change God’s mind?

So, I want you to turn to a
passage of scripture, the

thirty-second chapter of Exodus,
thirty-second chapter of Exodus.

Let me tell you
what’s happening.

Moses has been up on Mount Sinai
and he’s received the

Ten Commandments and God is
seeing what’s going on, and

here’s what the
Lord said to him.

He said, “They’ve
corrupted themselves.”

And verse nine of the
thirty-second chapter says,

“The LORD said to Moses,
‘I have seen this people.

Behold, they are an
obstinate people.

Now then let Me alone,
that My anger may burn

against them, and that I may
destroy them; and I will

make of you a great nation.'”

Then Moses cries out to God.

Here’s what he says, he says,
“Now why does Your anger

burn like this?

You brought them out of
Egypt with a mighty hand.

Why are You gonna let the
Egyptians say that their

God just brought them out there
to kill them in the wilderness?

Turn from Your anger and
change Your mind about

doing harm to Your people.

Remember Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob,” and so forth.

So, the Bible says in verse
fourteen, “So the LORD changed

His mind about the harm which He
said He would do to His people.”

Now does this mean that you
and I can go to God when God’s

decided He’s gonna do something,
and change God’s mind?

No, think about this
now, think through this.

God–who placed the burden for
God’s people on Moses’s heart?

God did.
Why did He do it?

Because He saw the
corruption of their heart.

He knew what was going on.

They’re down there
throwing–having this big, big

party with this golden calf,
worshipping a golden calf that

did not bring them out
of Egyptian bondage.

And so here’s God saying,
“I’m going to punish them.”

And Moses crying out and saying,
“Please change Your mind,

don’t do that.”

So, what happens?
God burdens Moses’s heart.

Moses has this awesome
compassion for

the nation of Israel.

He cries out to God,
“Please, please, please, please

give them another chance.”

God says, “Okay, all right.”

So, God changes His mind.

Now, now listen carefully.

Are you listening?
Say amen.

There are three things
that never change with God:

His character, His
purposes and His promises.

They never change.

So, when we think about God
changing His mind, He can’t

change His mind about
loving us unconditionally.

He can’t change His mind
about anything that has–

deals with His character, His
purposes, or His promises.

Can’t change, He’s
an unchangeable God.

And so when the Bible says He
changed, watch what happened.

So, He said, “Okay, Moses,
I hear what you’re saying.”

Then Moses comes down from
the mount and he finds all this

going on, so what does he do?

He reams into them a
message of judgment, and

he burns the golden calf.

He crushes it, spreads it
on all the water, and

then makes them drink it.

And then he calls those
on his side, he said,

“You who are gonna be
on my side, tribe of Levi.”

Then he says,
“Pull your sword.”

Wait a minute, now, he’d just
been crying out to God for God

not to do something like
that, and they killed

three thousand of them.

God knew the
condition of the people.

He placed upon Moses’s heart
this awesome burden

to pray for them.

Did God know what
He was gonna do?

Yes, He did.
And what happens?

Moses, in his compassion for
them, in his passion for them,

in his love for them, sees how
they are corrupting each other,

and they kill three
thousand of them.

Sometimes you and I will come to
God and ask Him to do this or do

that or do the other, and you
know what we’re gonna find out?

God knows all along what’s best.

And so, while He heard his
prayer, because He’s a God of

grace, He honored Moses’s
petition as intercessor.

But ultimately, God accomplished
His will, and that is He

destroyed those who were
corrupting the people.

Can you and I pray and
persuade God to change

His mind about things?

Don’t try that.

That’s not the issue.

The issue is, listen,
whatever God chooses to do,

He’s going to do.

Do our prayers have any effect?

Yes, they do.

A better way of expressing it
is not so much that we

change God’s mind, but that
God responds to us according

to the situation in
His awesome wisdom.

So, we’re not convincing God.

We don’t convince God
to answer our prayer.

He’s willing to.

We get ourselves in a position
before Him whereby He is able

to freely grant us the
petition of our heart.

So, we don’t pray and ask Him
to change something that

He’s decreed that will happen.

We ask Him to deal with
those things in our personal

lives that He chooses to
deal with, which is

every aspect of our life.

And when we come to Him with a
pure heart and we seek His will,

He will show us; sometimes
quickly, sometimes we

will not know until He acts.

He will show us His will.

He will accomplish His purpose.

He will bring us into harmony
with His will and purpose when

it is not at first what we want.

He will meet the desires of our
heart and the needs of our heart

because that’s who He is, our
Father, our loving Heavenly

Father who is good, who
is powerful, who loves us

unconditionally, and
who is kind to us.

Does it make a difference
whether you pray or not?

Yes, yes, it makes a difference
whether you pray or not!

Does it make a difference
whether you pray or not

about your own life? Yes!

What about the people,
your friends? Yes!

What about people
you don’t know? Yes!

Because that’s how
much God loves us.

He’s willing to use you to
impact somebody else’s life.

Now, watch this.

Because more than likely, before
you trusted Jesus Christ as

your personal Savior, you
know what God was doing?

Answering the prayers of
somebody or somebodies

who were praying for
you to get saved.

That is the grace of God.