On Prayer and Miracles


Back before I got into this Torah and Messiah faith, I was a big Christian and a church-goin’ kid. My family, both parents having come out of Catholicism, were very much involved in Protestant and Evangelical Christianity. (Back then, my dad didn’t know of his biological parents nor his Jewish grandparents. More importantly, we were largely ignorant of God’s commandments back then!)

We’d attend multiple services on Sunday: early service, lazy man’s 11:00am service, and the night service. Wednesday service. Conferences with all the big Christian leaders. Bible study in church. Vacation Bible School. I did all that. And almost all my relatives were big on the church thing, too, so it ran in the family.

During that time, I was exposed to some stuff that had some long ranging affects on faith life. One thing in particular is prayer.

Let me tell you a fun little story. I was about 12 or 13, playing in a basketball league at the local YMCA. During pre-game practice, I got one of those splitting headaches, the kind that FRIGGIN’ HURTS. Borderline migraine. My grandma, God bless her, pulled me aside in front of the whole team, laid hands on me and prayed for me, saying, “Judah, I’ll pray and you tell me when it’s gone.” Embarrassed and perturbed, I didn’t know what to do or make of this.

She prayed for like half an hour.

The headache didn’t go away.

“It’s gone.” I said, lying to her. As a kid, you don’t know what else to do when standing there for 30 minutes while your kid friends stare at you like a crazy person. I played the whole game enduring a splitting headache, not saying a word in order that grandma be none-the-wiser.

In another instance, during the pre-teen years, my family was visiting some big Protestant Church. I was in Sunday school. The teachers had each kid come up and ask for prayer for something personal. Mine was some illness at the time; a cold or something trivial. It doesn’t matter what it was. They prayed “until it went away”. It didn’t go away.

These and other instances of prayer left a bad impression on me. I think they’d leave a bad impression on anybody who believed in God! Maybe God didn’t do miracles anymore, I thought. “How come it can’t be like in the Bible?” I thought to myself. You know, back in the good old days of religion, when God regularly intervened and everyone saw His power. (I was an early-blooming Grandpa Tevye!)

Then as you grow older and dumber, you start to wonder, “Maybe those things in the Bible never happened at all; maybe they’re just exaggerated stories! Who knows? It doesn’t work now, that’s for sure.”

To top it off, I soon discovered a lot of things we do in prayer are just rituals. Despite the Protestants being all hardcore Sola Absurdum, despite their looking down upon all forms of ritual, there’s actually no real Scriptural mandate for most of what we do in prayer. Folding hands, joining hands, bowing heads, saying “amen”, saying, “In Jesus’ name”, closing eyes, praying that God would bless the food, and so on. That’s all ritual, zero Scriptural support for them. Some of that became meaningless and mundane to me, and I promptly dropped some of those things when I moved out of my parent’s house. (Shh! To this day, I still don’t pray a blessing over the meal!)

There was only 1 redeeming thing about prayer in my life. My dad would pray over us kids every night before bed, praying with full meaning and earnestness. That affected me positively. I really believe that his prayers kept me under God’s directing. Without it – being purely honest here – I’d probably be an agnostic today.

Fast forward a few years.

About a month ago, one Messianic leader and friend told me how prayer had “transformed his life”.


When religious people start talking about transformations, they might as well be speaking religious Esperanto; I totally tune out. I’ve seen too many “transformations” that weren’t real. Call me jaded, but I just don’t believe you. Maybe you think you had a transformation, but you’re still the same person.

Well, this religious friend sent me, on his dime, some teachings on prayer. Since he’s a friend, I listened to them. I tried it out. I started praying. Regularly. I started praying without demanding anything. I came to God in prayer, mostly just giving thanks. Praying started out with giving-of-thanks. Praise. Like worship music, but with just the lyrics. No demands. I prayed for other people, too. Yes, some asking, but mostly just praise.

What happened?

Well, I didn’t get healed of physical illness. I didn’t miraculously receive gold fillings.


No healing miracles happened. Nothing I could point you to and say, “See! Goes does exist after all!”

Things did, however, start to change. Some good things. Some transformative things have happened in my life and in the lives of the people I was praying for

Gosh, I hate to sound like that. If you’re anything like me, you read that last part and mentally skipped over it. But in honesty, my life with God is changing, transforming, because I started praying like this regularly. I pray in the morning. In the afternoon, I stop work and pray in private. I sometimes pray at night.

But what can I say? Prayer is changing my life with God. I actually talk to God, regularly, rather than just talk about him on this blog or just on shabbat during Bible study. It’s changing my life – less sin, believe it or not. That’s a good thing.

Why less sin? I don’t know. I think communicating directly with God does something to you. Puts your mind in the right place. Maybe it puts your flesh down. I don’t know. But it works. God’s plowing through my problems like a bulldozer on an ant hill.

And I’ve seen 2 people affected by my prayers. Not in some airy spiritual way either; but in a real way that showed up in the real world.

I’ve been praying regularly for 1 month and I’ve seen these real, actual good things happen. 1 month! Man. What is going to happen in 1 year? In 5 years? Think of the stuff you can change by praying earnestly for a lifetime? I think this stuff works, just not always in the way we expect it to.

I haven’t been healed of physical sickness; there was no undeniable God-manifestation, no bare arm of the Lord coming out of heaven. Maybe that won’t happen. Maybe it will. I have no idea now, actually. Before I was almost certain such things weren’t possible, seeing them fail so many times when I was younger. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe God still does heal people. I know for sure he doesn’t heal everybody. I know for sure that he doesn’t even heal all the people that love Him, as unfair as that seems.

But prayer affects things. I’m convinced of it.

One thing I want to start doing is praying for people that have totally and utterly abandoned God. I mean, the gone-gone people. Guys like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, guys that are so far removed from God, they’re convinced in their own minds God doesn’t exist and actively combat people deluded by the God spell. And for the people that despise us because we believe in God. To them, we’re just simpletons and fools who fell for the 3000 year old myths of Semitic tribesmen. I’m going to pray for these long-lost folks. Who knows what God will do? It’d sure as heck take a miracle for some of these people to turn to the Lord!

And I want to start praying for God’s Kingdom to show up. I mean, Messiah coming here and reigning as king. Restoring Israel. Settings things straight. Vindicating God’s people. Making his hidden kingdom be very visible in front of everybody. All those doubters shown wrong, all those haters put in their place. I want that to happen.

Most of all, I want to stand in a station of prayer in giving thanks and praising God. I think it’s one of the reasons we exist as humans, to give thanks to the God that formed us.

I want to start praying for the big stuff. Maybe they’ll happen. Maybe they’re not part of God’s plan, maybe they won’t happen. But prayer affects things. If you’d just STOP your busy life for one darn minute and just talk to God, things will change. So won’t you join me?


  1. I have found that prayer is powerful, but it is nothing like rubbing a magic lamp. Which is a good thing.

  2. Yeah.

    You know, I would really like to understand why God does, in fact, heal some people and not heal other people.

    I have a hard time believing it's lack of faith. I know some folks that are strong faith people and still weren't healed despite fervent prayer, laying on of hands, etc.

    I don't believe it's some evangelist with a magic touch for healing, either. You'd think God can heal people without any particular evangelist laying hands on that person.

    Messiah taught us to pray, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done..." Perhaps some healings aren't according to God's will?

  3. Judah:

    Good stuff. I might commend praying the Siddur or an abbreviated version (I confess, I don't make time for all of it) and also praying Psalms.

    Many simplistic ideas out there about prayer. Fact is, God intervenes far less and far more subtly than most people pretend. Prayer changes us, more than anything, and that is more a miracle than anything.

    Derek Leman

  4. Derek,

    Thanks. Yeah, the Messianic friend recommends praying the traditional prayers in the siddur as well. I'm familiar with some of the prayers, though by no means put them to memory.

    I'm still on the fence when it comes to liturgy - not that it's evil or anything, just that it is hard for me to keep them meaningful with all the repetition.

  5. Hi Judah,

    "I would really like to understand why God does" Just imagine that you would understand, then what makes G-d so much greater then you? I wouldn't want to believe in a G-d that I can understand because then what makes him much greater then me.

    In Orthodox Judaism we know that G-d knows what is best for us even though sometimes we think its bad or not so good that ... is happening to us, we don't know what good will come out of it and we might never know.

    And sometimes G-d gives us hard times to wake us up and once that happens in the beginning he might send some small wake up calls but if that doesn't help he can send bigger ones until he comes himself to wake us up but when He comes he doesn't knock on the door he bangs down the door and that can hurt so we have to make sure to wake up before that.

    Also some people like to say "G-d do whats good for me and not what I think is good for me" we are limited and don't have the whole picture but G-d knows everything so let him take care of it.

    In Judaism we know that praying and giving praise to G-d isn't the only reason that G-d sent us here on earth if he just wants praise then he can just use his angles to praise him but he sent us for a reason and that reason is written in the Torah that G-d himself gave to all the Israelites on Mount Sinai (Ten Commandments) and the whole Torah and the Oral Law to Moses and Moses wrote down the Torah while he was still alive and gave one to all the tribes and one he put in the Mishkan while passing the Oran Law to the 71 members of the Sanhedrin.

    Its also interesting to note that none of the Seven Noahide Laws is to pray or to bless/praise G-d that isn't the point of life while it is a nice thing.

    We pray and praise to G-d 3 times a day Shacharit, Micah and Maariv and in those prayers there is the Shemoneh Esrei with the first 3 and last 3 parts are praise to G-d you might want to try it out.


  6. I often spontaneously turn a psalm into a prayer/supplication. For example, I recently opened my Bible to Psalm 91 and prayed it.....in light of this Swine Flu scare!

    >>Prayer changes us, more than anything, and that is more a miracle than anything.

    Amen! Mind if I add that quip to my blog, Derek? I am collecting "Comforting Quips" and that would fit with the theme.

    Judah, I join you in praying for atheists to return to God. Check out the article, Defecting to Faith at this blog. Food for thought.....and prayer!



  7. Adminjew,

    I would hope that understanding why God heals sometimes and doesn't heal other times is a matter of wisdom, like Melech Shlomo, not a pissing contest between God and man.

    You said, "G-d do whats good for me and not what I think is good for me."

    Yeah, I know that's true. Perhaps that is why Messiah taught us to pray, he told us to pray that God's kingdom will come and that God's will be done. God's will, we figure, is better, wiser, more vast than our own, so we pray God's will rather than ours.

    Regarding praising God, I know we exist for other reasons than praising God. I used precise language in the post, saying, "One of the reasons we exist as humans..." I do believe that. One of the reasons we exist is to give praise to God in free will, believing without seeing, an act angels cannot do.

  8. Tandi,

    Thanks. I like turning psalms into prayers.

    I will check out that blog.

  9. Judah,

    Great post! To me prayer is one of the best parts of being a child of God. It's not just talking to God, it's hearing His voice as well. It is easy for me to get up in the morning to pray and rattle off a list of requests and concerns for the day and then think no more about Him. Lately I have been taking time to keep my mental mouth shut and just listen. It's a hard thing to do, but it's where I feel that He is leading me.

    In Christ,

  10. Hi Judah! Sorry it's been a while. A bit busy down under, what with our government spending money like drunken sailors and waking up with a hangover debt.

    My favourite observation about prayer is from a bible commentator whose name escapes me for the minute. He says "prayer is God's way of enlisting us in what he is doing".

    It's one of those things which can dig you out of that predestination/ free will conundrum: I.e. how can we have free will and yet have God as the author of past/present/future? Easy- we are free to choose whatever we want. It's just that God already knows what we are going to ask for. This explanation is a little unsophisticated, but you get the drift.

    I think that God wants us to study His Law and His Word, so as to develop a heart for what He has a heart for. Then we're more likeley to know that what we're praying for, is what He wants. He wants us to be blessed by being a part of what He is doing!

    That's why prayer is important. It's not so we can make God change His mind about something.

    My two cents (which in Australia are worth a lot less than they were last week ;))

    Shalom/ Cheers!

  11. One thing that I've learned from prayer is that you can't force it or will it. We pray to the Father and give it to him. He is the one who knows our heart. I believe the prayer of one who has clean hands and a pure heart goes a long way. Those that truly walk after Him and His ways and not their own.