It is always a good thing to look at what atheists teach. We get insight because they have an adviser who knows the Bible inside out. His strategy is to accuse. We read about him in Revelation 12:10c, ’…the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night….’
So when atheists accuse us that we are foolish to serve the Lord God, it is not a surprise. It is exactly what the Accuser did when he tried to persuade Jesus to serve him instead of God. Jesus showed us how to answer, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” 1
Atheists love to tell us that prayer does not work. Richard Dawkins,2 Guy Harrison3 and many others have the same theme: prayer is a waste of time. Dawkins exults in a failed prayer experiment, preaching prayer is ineffective. He, a complete novice about the Kingdom of God, fails to mention that prayer is more than just an impersonal, mechanical entreaty to God:
- Effective prayer is in the name of Jesus.4 That means by a devout follower of Christ who lives in a relationship with Him and has forgiven those who sinned against him.5 1 John 3:22 captivates it beautifully, ‘Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.’ It is useless to select a group of people to pray for others, if they don’t have a deep personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and depend on His leading.
- Faith is a precious commodity that Dawkins, Harrison and other prayer critics don’t have. This faith is so precious and important that Jesus teaches us in the parable of the persistent widow never to stop praying. ‘…they [we] should always pray and not give up.’ 6 Why? Because Jesus will answer when He sees we have faith, “Have faith in God. …if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” 7
Neither God nor Jesus is threatened by atheists who spread doubt about prayer. They gave a promise to their followers, Ask and it will be given to you….’ 8 However, when the Pharisees and the Sadducees asked a sign from heaven, Jesus answered, A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah [the resurrection].’ 9 Atheists’ attempts to extract a sign from God will never be answered.
For those who know God and love Him, prayer is powerful and effective. The reason why the devil spreads doubt about prayer is because he knows the truth. He knows that prayer works and that he is at a disadvantage when believers call on the Lord. That applies especially in critical times. We can take comfort in the fact that the enemy of God takes special trouble to identify the believers’ potent weapon, prayer.
- Matthew 4:8-10
- Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Books, 2006, p 61-66
- Guy Harrison, Fifty Simple Questions for Every Christian, Prometheus Books, 2012, p 33-39 of 324 (Kindle edition)
- John 14:14; 15:7
- Mark 11:25
- Luke 18:1-7
- Mark 11:22-24
- Matthew 7:7
- Matthew 16:1-4