The Unexpected Power of Prayer (& my bitter heart)

“Pray for us?” She asked so expectantly, detailing a little bit of what was going on in their lives. She said she asked because she knew I would.

And she was right, but I still felt a little bit miffed. This was like the third person in just as many days who had done this. Didn’t they understand that my head hurt? Did they not know what was going on in my own life?

Yes, God gave me a heart for others, and yes I believe in the power of prayer, but if you look around, my prayers don’t seem to be very effective lately.

The Unexpected Power of Prayer Share on X

My husband needs back surgery and we got the runaround and ultimately denial by workers comp. The injury happened in October, the surgery is expected later this month. I have been having debilitating migraines for six months and we still didn’t have any answers.

We were in pain, stressed beyond measure, and clinging to Jesus for dear life, but sure, I’d pray for her while I was there.

Sadly, that was my sarcasm-filled attitude one morning last month before I lifted up a friend in prayer. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my friend, I did. And quite frankly there is no excuse for my sinful attitude, but my head hurt and I was cranky and in all my humanness it came out in all its ugliness… Just as it had on the two or three other unsuspecting Christian sisters who had asked for prayer earlier that weekend who never even knew how bitter I was.

My attitude was sinfully wrong. I have humbled myself before God and repented of my sin, but what changed my heart?

The Unexpected Power of Prayer

Because I do love my friend and I do believe in the power of prayer, I went ahead and began to pray for her request. Just a humble prayer, bringing her words before Jesus. But God didn’t leave it there, because prayer is a two-way street.

What started out as a meek, half-hearted, obligatory prayer, became so much more.

The more I prayed, the more passionate I became.

God moved in my heart, first for my friend, and then for myself. He broke my heart for her, and then for how bitter I was about her situation.

Prayer has the power to change our hearts, even when that's not what we're praying for...

It was so unlike me, unlike anything I have ever been it caught me off guard. How long had I been letting my pain push out the love of Jesus?

When I was finished praying, everything was still the same as before. My head still hurt, my husband still needed surgery, our bills were still piling up, but God had changed my heart.

I felt renewed and refreshed in a way I hadn’t for weeks.

Even though I was clinging to Jesus there was something about truly pouring my heart out for someone else that refilled me like nothing else had.

And for the record, God did answer my prayers for my friend. He gave her just what we asked for in prayer. I know that sometimes His answer is no, but sometimes His answer is yes. I needed that reminder.

Sometimes God's answer is no… but sometimes it's yes. Share on X
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How Has God Used Prayer In Your Life Lately?

We would love to hear from you. Has God ever used prayer in your life unexpectedly? Have you ever needed a reminder that while sometimes His answer is no, sometimes His answer is yes? Share your stories in the comments below!

Candid ConversationsThis is an edited excerpt from Heather’s anthology, Candid Conversations. (Or more like the rough draft of one of the chapters.) While each story in the anthology shares a unique perspective, the prevailing theme is that we all struggle, but there is hope to be found in Jesus. Click here to learn more.

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  1. Just this morning I was praying for wisdom about something, not really expecting anything, but the Holy Spirit answered my prayer and gave me confidence. It was exciting to be reminded that at times God will answer us the moment we pray if we have a heart seeking after Him!

  2. “What started out as a meek, half-hearted, obligatory prayer, became so much more… The more I prayed, the more passionate I became.” Yes!! This is why we must pray for others, no matter what mood we’re in!

  3. “When I was finished praying, everything was still the same as before. My head still hurt, my husband still needed surgery, our bills were still piling up, but God had changed my heart.” Yes! I’m so glad He moved in your heart! Thank you for all of these great reminders!

  4. Thank you so much for this post, Heather! You were brave enough to say what I know we have all felt at times when faced with the needs of others. I have experienced that same transformation of the Holy Spirit when I go into prayer, that melting away of self as God’s spirit fills us. It’s like when He is there, there is no room for anything else. If I could only remind myself of that more when I’m in a rut!! Prayer is so powerful, thank you for the timely reminder.

    1. It can be so hard to put ourselves out there, can’t it Jaime? I was tempted to hold on to this post, to save it for later, but I knew if I was going through it, someone else out there probably is too. That’s the thing about being a Christian woman. We all face similar issues. We just have to be bold enough to share about them to let others know they aren’t alone. Even if that means someone else looks at us and judges us as less than. We are less than, that’s why we need Jesus.

  5. I taught about prayer to the middle schoolers at church this week and it was a challenge for me, too. I challenged them to pray for something impossible because “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

    1. I recently shared about how God has answered one of my prayers with a no. It’s not that it’s too hard for Him, it’s just that it’s not always His will to say yes. That’s been a hard lesson for me, but one worth learning.

  6. This is a beautiful post. I admit that I have been in a similar place, thinking “but what about my needs?”. And our needs are important too, but may we all see it as a priviledge to bring our loved ones and lost ones before the Lord.

  7. Thank you so much for this very honest and God-honoring piece. The Spirit of God is powerful – thank you for reminding me of this. There are times God has worked in similar ways in my hardened heart through prayer.

  8. This is extremely encouraging to read. I’ve often felt guilt about my prayer habits…either I think it’s not often enough or that I only ask for things. I also have learned that prayer is so unique to an individual. Growing up I felt like I had to say the same things as I heard, or I had to have the same tones in my voice. As I’ve gotten older, I learned that God operates outside our human boxes. I may not have all the right words to say, but He’s so amazing that he can hear my heart. You are absolutely right. There is something in completely pouring our hearts out to him, even if we don’t feel like it. It really teaches us to humble ourselves and pray for more than just ourselves. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable about your lesson learned through prayer. I also will be thinking and praying for the specific situation you pointed out. Worker’s Comp can be difficult to deal with. <3 <3 In Christ!

    1. Thanks, Katie. Life can be so hard, but God is so good. I was talking to a friend earlier today and through the tears I was so thankful to be able to say that while it may seem like my world is falling apart, this world is not my home. So glad you found encouragement here. I know I am going through all of this for a purpose, and I am so thankful I can encourage others along the way.

  9. Heather, this is such a powerful testimony about prayer. I want to thank you for being so transparent and sharing how prayer (God) took over when your body and mind was at it’s limits. That is so encouraging. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m going to share it in my FB prayer group today!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Leslie! God is amazing and He is always ready to step in, even when we aren’t expecting it. He knows just what we need and when we need it.

  10. Great article, Heather! “Sometimes God’s answer is No, but sometimes It’s YES!” We won’t know unless we take the opportunity to pray! Thanks for the reminder! <3

  11. I can totally relate to the burden of prayer requests when you are already in a depleted state!
    I have chronic health conditions which came to visit after my husband passed away from brain cancer 12 weeks after diagnosis… they have really taken there toll on me in every way…

    But I have come to realize this is actually a precious time that I can use with my Lord in prayer (I can’t do a great deal as i once was capable of doing) but prayer I can do even when the inclination isn’t there, I know its part of my ministry to others.

    I love God’s sense of humor too, he has me now as a text prayer leader & coordinator for two prayer groups now!

    I am a newbie blogger, with an outreach blog of subtle evangelism in the Lord’s leading & direction. You are most welcome to drop by with your favorite beverage, add a little tasty treat of deliciousness & reflect with me for awhile.

  12. Beautiful post, love your honesty in this. Yes, it’s hard sometimes when we are bombarded with many prayer requests, so many people are suffering and need support, but as you have experienced, and i have too, prayer is for us, not for God… it changes us, it opens our eyes and our hearts. We need it as much as the people we are praying for. Great reminder, Heather, thank you!

  13. Wow. It’s hard to pray, feeling bitter. Feeling condemned because I know that I am harboring an attitude that is not Christ like, but still knowing I need to cry out to the Father. Thanks for this! Prayer will change our hearts!

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