Prayer changes nothing!… Really?

“Prayer changes nothing!”

Often attributed to Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, famous author and Bible expositor, that quote puts into words what many Christians seem to think.

In decades of teaching seminars & workshops on prayer, I’ve heard it often. “Prayer really doesn’t change circumstances, it just changes us.”

The problem is… that’s wrong. It borders on heresy, denying the personal working of God in this world today.

It’s wrong for these basic reasons:

The Bible contradicts it. Even though true prayer certainly changes the person doing the praying, that isn’t the whole story. Here’s a sample of what the Bible says about answered prayer:

  • Prayer gave Isaac twin sons even though his wife was barren – Genesis 25:21.
  • Prayer kept Esau from killing Jacob and caused the two to reconcile – Genesis 32:11 & 33:4.
  • Prayer freed the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage – Exodus 2:23-25.
  • Prayer saved the nation of Israel from God’s judgment and preserved their destiny – Deuteronomy 9:18-20.
  • Prayer spared Israel again and again during the time of Judges, until they asked for a king instead – 1 Samuel 12:6-23.
  • Prayer gave King Solomon his unique wisdom – 1 Kings 3:9-12.
  • Prayer saved King Jehoshaphat & his people from invasion by three armies – 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.
  • Prayer released Peter from death row – Acts 12:5-11.
  • Prayer led to Paul’s conversion & forgiveness – Acts 7:59-60 & 9:1-6
  • Prayer brought Jesus back from the dead – Hebrews 5:7.

And that’s just a small sampling. In Dr. Herbert Lockyer’s book, All The Prayers Of The Bible, the foreword says Scripture records 650 definite prayers, of which there are 450 specific answers recorded.

Besides that, faith contradicts it.

This doctrine – that “prayer changes nothing” – directly contradicts what the Bible says about faith. It’s a doctrine that negates faith. It tries to satisfy the natural man’s aversion to God’s supernatural working.

If God doesn’t answer prayer today, then one doesn’t have to worry about why specific prayers didn’t get answered. If prayer merely changes my attitude, then I don’t expect God to work in specific ways that can be seen and measured. If He doesn’t work in ways that can be seen today, then I’m not obligated to search out His ways.

Put another way – “Don’t expect anything and you won’t get disappointed.”

So, prayer does change things. It changes everything, including people, attitudes, circumstances, illness, the weather… if God can change it, then prayer can influence it.

As the Bible puts it – “You do not have because you do not ask God.” -James 4:2 NIV

I bet most of you reading this post have experienced at least one remarkable answer to prayer. Why not share it with us in the comments?


  1. Prayer is one of the means God ordained to bring about change. It never changes God, His mind or His Sovereign decrees. But, prayer is one of the ways God has made available for us to participate in His providential work toward change in our lives and in this world.

  2. If prayer changes nothing … I will stay in my bed on Sunday mornings…
    I couldn’t walk 2 years ago after emergency brain surgery… It was awful. I had to use a walker ( I’m a 47 year old fitness enthusiast who personal trainer).
    I appreciated the walker – because it allowed me to get around.. But really – who wants a walker. I couldn’t walk/ stand alone for 1 year & 3 weeks… I was in constant pain. Retrospectively, such a blessing – because it forced me to seek God – with all my heart and I found him. At a church service on Jan 27, 2013… I responded in a healing service and was immediately healed. Standing caused horrible pain… So I can’t express to you the feeling of that relief !!!! Immediately I stepped out in faith & Jesus met me and answered my prayer. He Rocks !! He is the rock I now stand on. He never changes. Prayer changed my life.
    Prayer is also one of the tools given to us by God to over overcome… Other tools are: worship, His Word, faith, the Blood of Jesus, Love & the precious Holy Spirit. We neen to lean on Him- fully and use these tools – just like you would use tools at a gym…. 🙂

  3. Amazing testimony, Carrie! I’m so glad you shared it. I’ve been encouraged and uplifted by it – a reminder that the Lord indeed answers our prayers and heals today! May you continue to be blessed by His love and grace.

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