by Elisabeth Elliot, from Keep a Quiet Heart, p. 110

News came one day which indicated that a matter I had been praying about had deteriorated rather than improved. What good are my prayers, anyway? I was tempted to ask. Why brother? It’s becoming a mere charade. But the words of Jesus occurred in my Bible reading that very morning (and wasn’t it a good thing I’d taken time to hear Him?): “If you, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him?” (Matthew 7:11, NEB). 

Are you often tempted as I am to doubt the effectiveness of prayer? But Jesus prayed. He told us to pray. We can be sure that the answer will come, and it will be good. If it is not exactly what we expected, chances are we were not asking for quite the right thing. Our heavenly Father hears the prayer, but wants to give us bread rather than stones.

Prayer is a weapon. Paul speaks of the “weapons we wield” in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. They are “not merely human, but divinely potent to demolish strongholds” (NEB). The source of my doubts about its potency that morning was certainly not the Holy Spirt. It was the unholy spirt, the Destroyer himself, urging me to quit using the weapon he fears so intensely.