Does pryaer chane things?


I see many prayer requests here and many people giving thanks to God for what they believe is granted requests. I have seen people believing that God has “fixed broken marriages,” brought wayward children back to the church, shrunk cancerous tumors, and fixed mysterious pain. One of the things I respect about the Catholic Church is that they investigate claims of miracles and do not accept them automatically. Yet when people give credit to God for doing minor interventions people just accept it. I think we must agree that ANY intervention in our lives by the creator of the universe must, by definition, be a miraculous event.

Since miracles do not happen very often it leaves me wondering if many of the so called answered prayer requests are things that either would have happened anyway or are the result of “positive thinking” mind over matter. This leads me to further wonder that if God does indeed answer prayer why there has never been any proven incident of an amputated limb growing back. Surely one who has lost a leg, hand, or even a finger is in dire need of that appendage. Why would God cure a sore joint, but stop short of growing back a leg? If he can and does cure cancer why not restore digits to a hand?

I am sure that this argument has been made before, but I am curious as to what the intelligent people at this forum have to say.


He has promised in His Word to answer prayers said to Him. The thing is we are not able to measure (in scientific terms) His Gift of the Holy Spirit and how or when that will manifest or even exactly what His Will is in a particular instance. We also don’t know how common miracles are, although I’d think that a doctor who delivers babies might have something to say about that. We need to follow Him in faith and deed, as best we can.


The real point of prayer is to develop a loving relationship with God, conforming ourselves to God’s will, not to get God to conform Himself to our will.

Physical healings, etc. are only relevant to this mortal life. God may grant these prayer requests IF it would be beneficial to the eternal life of our soul. THAT is what really counts. He knows better than we do what we really need.


You say it is relevant only to this life, but when you review the prayer requests in this forum you see people almost pleading for the very things I mentioned. I am certain that someone who has lost an appendage or their eyes may become very bitter to God and if they were to grow a leg or have their eyes pop back in both they and everyone around them would be very blessed indeed.

If you and the other respondent really think this then your own prayer must only consist of praising God and no petitions. As I mentioned, ANY intervention from the creator of the entire universe is a miracle. Therefore am I to believe that those asking God for help are wasting their time?


No - for two reasons. 1) You will become closer to Him, just by your asking and may very well (I know, I have) change your petition, somewhat or even totally as you understand more clearly His Will, and 2) look at the numerous well documented and scientifically examined miracles used in the canonizations for Saints or the similarly documented and examined miracles of Our Lady of Lourdes.


No, that’s not true at all. But over the years, as I get closer to God, my prayer has changed. I still ask God for things, but I am more likely to add, “Not my will, but Thine be done” (as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane). And I am more likely to realize that the answer to a prayer can be Yes, No, or Wait. And I try to remember that if God does not give me exactly what I ask for, then maybe He has something better in mind for me, and that His timing may be different from mine.

Even the fact that we exist is an intervention from the Creator of the universe. If He forgot about us for even an instant, we would cease to exist.

No, those asking God for help are not wasting their time. And even if they do not get what they ask for, their time has not been wasted. By prayer they have been drawn closer to God, with whom they will spend all eternity. How can that be a waste of time?

And sometimes God gives them something different that is even more wonderful. Let me give you an example. Many seriously ill or disabled people pray for healing. Some are physically healed; many are not. But many of those who do not receive the physical healing they were looking for actually receive spiritual healings they were not looking for, and these are even more important. They are able to find joy despite their physical difficulties; they find themselves able to forgive and reconcile with others; they are able to unite their suffering with the suffering of Jesus on the Cross, and that is an amazing thing.

I know a dear woman in a nursing home who is in excruciating pain every day. But she offers it all to God for the salvation of souls (for you and for me), and she has a deep interior peace despite the physical pain. I know that her prayers are answered.


Hi Kuzushi.

Take some time and read this short work by St Alphonsus to understand the importance and power of prayer :slight_smile:


If nothing else, prayer changes us…

At least, real prayer does. I’m not sure a few muttered words with no feeling, intention or attention counts.


In many cases the people who are asking are having a lot of trouble, and when their prayer is unanswered they feel more alone than ever. They would have been better off not praying. I stick with my original premise that all those people making prayer requests and praying on their own should be told honestly that the chances of God actually answering their prayer is slim. It is like someone waiting for their numbers to hit the lottery. The statistical odd against winning millions is very large.

Similarly, those who give thanks to God for prayers answered should be told that these are things that would have happened anyway. If God would not grow back an arm or a leg he surely would not help little junior pass his algebra test!

Again, I want to see pictures of a lopped off arm or leg growing back. I DO NOT mean some kind of vague misshapen unusable bag of skin growing out of the lost appendage. Doctors and scientist will tell you that many of the so called “documented” miracles are simply freaks of nature. No, my academic background is not in medicine, but I know that many unbiased scientist are unimpressed. If you read about these miracles they often occurred many years ago and all the “witnesses” are long dead. Surely with all the millions of Christians out there God can see at lest one scenario where he sees fit to restore someone’s leg or legs.

Furthermore there are also “documented” cases of similar healings from the Muslim and Buddhist world. Are we as Catholics going to say that Allah and Buddha are equal opportunity lesser gods?



I don’t know that the church would support that statement as we exist as long as our biological hearts and brains still function.

But I am only interested in the truth not peripheral benefits. I want to know that if one who is praying stands a good chance of having that prayer heard and acted upon.

I understand this argument, but as I have said ANY intervention on behalf of us mere humans from the creator of the universe MUST be a miracle. If God is in the miracle dispensing business why has there not been something as definite as a documented case of a severed limb growing back instantly?

What else can she do? The point is that she could achieve this nebulous peace through meditation, positive attitude, etc. This is what millions of non believers and other religions do all the time.


Well, working out, yoga, meditation, and just a quiet walk in the woods also changes me.

I am just not seeing anyone coming up with anything concrete here. However, I appreciate and thank all respondents.


OK- here’s the short version…I just finished a CCD class where I talked about prayer.

  1. Our prayers will be answered when we ask the Father in Jesus’ name and…

  2. We ask for what is good for our salvation, and…

  3. We pray with perseverance , humility and confidence, and…

  4. We pray in a state of grace, or to return to the state of grace, and…

  5. We are willing to give up sin and do God’s will.

One must also remember that God can answer our prayers in at least 4 ways.

  1. God’s answer = Yes.
  2. God’s answer = No.
  3. God’s answer = Yes, but not yet.
  4. God’s answer = Yes, but in a way different than we expected.

Hope this helps!



Prayer does change things. I know this from personal experiences and from the lives of others.

If you do a web search of the name ‘Maureen Digan’ and do some reading I think you will find a very concrete example. If you are more of a visual person you can find out about Maureen Digan in her own words in the video Ocean of Mercy.

This example of prayer working is as concrete as it gets.
Whether you believe or not will be between you and God.


Mr. Todd



Yes, that is a similar formula I was taught in school too. However, it really does not answer my question. I am sure that there are many people over the years that have met the conditions of your list, but they still have not received as radical a miracle as growing a new leg. Now if you can point out some rule God has that says he will do everything EXCEPT repair severed limbs, eyes, ears, etc you will get my attention. It looks like God’s answer is ALWAYS no to what I am asking. Does that seem logical to you?

When I have time I will do this, but lets be honest here; if I have to google it, and I have never heard of her this can not be a well proven story. If what I am suggesting ever happens, i.e. a documented severed limb grows back and the person says it happened after he prayed it will make headlines and the nightly news.

I am merely pointing out a logical inconsistency with religious belief on prayer. God always gets the glory when a prayer is answered in the affirmative, but when it is either ignored or denied people just say “well God just said no.” If ANY prayer is answered it is a miracle, and since God can do anything restoring a severed limb is certainly within his purview.


There’s a key point here that you seem to be missing.

God is not our butler. God is not a vending machine (put your prayers in, push the button, and out comes whatever it is that you want.) God is our Creator, and we are his created. If you don’t have that in your heart, it is likely that NONE of your prayers will be answered. Knowing our place in creation (humility) is a key factor.

And there are 4 kinds of prayer - praise and glory, contrition, thanksgiving, and petition. It seems that you are focusing on petition only. Do you every say prayers of praise, glory, contrition, or thanksgiving?

Our place in this universe is not to demand things of He who created us, and then tell him that when he doesn’t do it that he’s failing to meet our expectations (not that you said it that way, but I’ve heard others). Neither is it our place to “test” God, “OK God - I’ll believe in you if only you do X.”

Why should God regrow a limb because person A asks for it? Is it his job? Perhaps it is part of his plan for person A NOT to be fully ambulatory(sp?). Or…Perhaps it is part of his plan for SOMEBODY ELSE, that person A is not fully ambulatory, i.e. that the works of God (that WE do) may be made manifest through person A. So person A’s condition becomes essential to person B’s salvation. Hey, it’s possible.

God has given us life. God has given us immortal souls. God has given us talents in various measures. And God has given us all an opportunity for heaven. God did not make everyone equally “lucky” or equally fortunate. But that’s part of his plan.


I agree, but I don’t think you have been paying attention to what I have written. In this thread I am focusing on petition. The fact is that many people do ask and even plead to God for help with physical, mental and spiritual ailments. My point is that since no where in time has anyone ever received the gift of limb restoration. WHY would anyone think God would help them sell their house, get a good grade on a test, bring back their cheating husband/wife, grant them a safe trip, protect their son in war, etc. when those who have been severely injured can NEVER realistically expect their lopped off legs to grow back? I just do not see any evidence that God is involved with us individuals on a personal level.

Those who petition God are wasting their time. When prayer is “granted” it is often a nebulous answer and an argument can almost always be made that it is something that would have happened in the normal course of events.


How do you know no one has ever received such a miracle?
You haven’t heard it does not mean it has not happened.
You are talking about a creative miracle that is rare, but not non-existent. I have not seen one, but I did see the uneven legs grow to the same length. What we have not seen or heard does not mean they are not out there.

WHY would anyone think God would help them sell their house, get a good grade on a test, bring back their cheating husband/wife, grant them a safe trip, protect their son in war, etc.

Why not? God is our heavenly Father, why wouldn’t he care about his own children?

… I just do not see any evidence that God is involved with us individuals on a personal level.

Think back of your own life. Didn’t you see God’s blessings and protection?

Those who petition God are wasting their time. When prayer is “granted” it is often a nebulous answer and an argument can almost always be made that it is something that would have happened in the normal course of events.

There is a major difference in attitude between those who believe and those who don’t. For those who believe, they show their gratitude to God for all the blessings, for those who don’t believe,
they take things for granted but blame God for anything not turn out as they wish.


Be realistic here; if such a thing happened it would be all over the news and the person would be booked on Oprah! Besides, the obligation to prove that a miracle happened is on the one who claims it. Even the Catholic Church would agree with me on that.

As I have already said ANY intervention of the Supreme Being in mine or anyone else’s life is a miracle. If God is willing to give me “blessings and protection” than why not grow back some other poor person’s leg? It is a legitimate question! The next logical step to take is that God never intervened in mine or your life. Maybe Homer Simpson is right and life is “just a bunch of stuff that happens.”

If they do not believe in God how can they blame him for something? I don’t follow you here.


I can give you many examples of answered prayers, but I’ll tell you just two from my own experience. I’m going to try to make these short and minus a lot of details, (but with some loss of the WOW effect, unfortunately).

  1. Years ago, I had a job in which I did a lot of traveling. And my teenage daughter was going through a series of unrelated, but life threatening (literally) medical problems. I was not very religious then, but eventually I noticed that when I prayed, things got better. Then I stopped praying, and my daughter would get the next malady. A long time after the fact, I realized that God was encouraging me to pray. But that’s not actually the neat part of the story.

I also prayed to God that I get find a different job (at my same company) where I would not be traveling so much, and could be nearby to help my daughter. 2 weeks later I got a pink slip (layoff notice). My initial thoughts towards God were not kind. But then I remembered a letter I got a few years earlier from a colleague in California offering me a job if I ever needed one. I ended up taking that job and my family moved to California, and I would not need to travel.

Just a coincidence, right?

Well, it turns out that for the last few years my wife had been privately (without my knowledge) praying that we move to California so we could be near her siblings and father who had all recently moved there as well.

So…there you go. 2 prayers answered at the same time with the same event. Thank you God.

  1. My dad has alzheimers, and is very difficult to be around because he repeats an endless-loop story of his world war 2 exploits. He was never actually in world war 2, which makes it even more difficult to listen to. And he doesn’t remember anything that happened 5 minutes ago, so, you get the idea.

But he loves to golf. He lives 3000 miles from me so I can’t take him, but there is a loving soul 40 years his junior who does take him out once a week. On my last visit, I got to meet this wonderful man, call him Mr. X, and I made a quickie informal “prayer” to God that there be some way for me to repay him.

The evening before returning to California, our family, my dad included were at a “concert in the park” which is what folks in small towns do when they get old. The seats were all filled except one next to my wife and I. But we look over and there winding her way through the park looking for a seat was a bag lady / cat lady (a-la Simpsons) / crazy lady, whatever you want to call her. I prayed that she not sit next to us, but luckily God ignored that particular prayer.

She sat with us (there was no choice, all the other seats were taken), and as we thought, she was not well in the head. She talked nonsense for 40 minutes, and we did our best to see a child of God in her face, we listened as best we could and were polite, and tried to treat her with as much dignity as we could.

Finally she got up to leave, but turned around and said something coherent. “Do you know anybody from Townville?” I said that no, we didn’t. She said “Are you sure?” Yup, we were sure. She persisted, “Do you know anybody named X?” And it occurred to me that I had just bet one Mr. X week earlier, and I told her that. Her response - “Oh, he’s my nephew.” Then she walked away.

It took me a while to figure out what happened, but then it struck me that God had sent “the cat lady” to me as an opportunity to pay back Mr. X , just as I had prayed for. He was kind to my dad and I was kind to his aunt who had virtually the same form of mental problems.

Thank you God for giving me the opportunity, and thank you God for not letting me botch it completely.

Prayers do work. When you pray for something that is good for your salvation. Perhaps regrowing a limb, or even having one or not, is not something related to our salvation.

God’s job is not to make our lives easy. His job is to help us get to heaven. The two are rarely the same.

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