The Bible and prayer

Is prayer effective as the Bible says?
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Luke 11:9 So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you;

Suppose a soldier has his leg blown off by a bomb. He now has only one leg. He returns home and his wife prays that his (blown off) leg will be restored. Does Mark 11:24 and Luke 11:9 say that her prayer will be granted?

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All according to God’s will.

Maybe the doctors might be able to sew it back on, maybe Uncle Sam will give him a bionic leg. One thing for sure, if the soldier gets into heaven his leg will be on him when he enters paradise.


You are adding that proviso. It doesn’t say that in the text.

There have been rare cases when people did have their limbs restored miraculously. Usually it’s right after the event (ie, somebody saintly sticks it back on and prays over it), but there have been some cases where people who have been limbless for years got a miraculous leg or arm (either by it growing back, or just appearing overnight - again, usually associated with a healing shrine or a miraculous apparition of a saint or saints associated with healing or being a physician).

But when this stuff happens, it is not something forced out of God. Someone freely asks, and God freely answers.

Praying for something, for yourself or others, is never going to hurt you (or them). If you pray seriously and persistently, either you will get what you pray for, or you will get a favor that is as good as what you asked for.

You may not know about it or recognize it at first, however. (As in the country song about thanking God for unanswered prayers.)

But if you ever have something big to pray about, like praying for restoration of a leg, why not?

And whether you get a physical noticeable gift like having a leg back; or you get it back in another form, like a prosthetic; or you “only” get courage and strength to find new ways to get through life, or relief from pain, or the ability to pray for other people’s souls – you have nothing but gain, instead of just having something bad that happened to you.

Of course, it helps to be someone holy with great trust in God, perfect prayer, blah blah blah.

But super-holy people with awesome prayer skills, or outright miracleworking, got to know God that well through imperfect prayer, and bad stuff happening to them, and a lot of doubt and pain. We don’t have the advantages that Adam started out with; we have to work on being open to God, and joining our wants and needs to His plans for us and all Creation. The more we can do that, the more it will all make sense.

I’m not a saint, and I’m not good at praying yet. But I know that we are co-heirs with Christ, part of His Body, and that we are called to use that for others and for ourselves.

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MasterHaster – Pretty much every piece of advice in the Bible comes with the proviso, “If what you are asking goes along with God’s will”, just like most of the prophecies of doom are conditional on “If you don’t repent and change your ways first, you idiots.”

God is not saying, “Pray to be able to rape seventy thousand women and children, and I’ll grant it to you!”

Instead, there are plenty of bits where God says, “You know why that didn’t work? Because you’re acting like creeps! Stop doing that nasty stuff, and we’ll talk!”

Jesus has several parables on the power of prayer, and what kind of prayers God ignores. Like the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector going to the Temple – that’s a good one. And Jesus has the inside track on prayer…

If you are interested in understanding the broader context of the power of prayer:

  1. Read the whole Bible, not just bits. Or at least skim a lot more widely. There are always interesting things to run across. Bible concordances will help you.

  2. Find one of the famous or not so famous books on prayer, and read that. Usually chock full of Biblical references.


You are correct, it doesn’t say that in that text you posted. Doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Every prayer God answers is according to His will not ours. If God sees fit to miraculously give you your arm back, with no medical attention needed, than His will be done. If God doesn’t think it is necessary to give you such a miracle than His will be done.

Huh I never heard of any cases of that happening but would love to hear/learn more about it.

In the end, yes it will.

When we are raised on that last day, following the return and judgment of our Lord, we will be given a glorified body. At that point, the prayers for the restoration of the soldier’s leg will have been granted.

Rejoice, Always!

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CarmeliteKnight –

Yeah, cases of amputation reversal are pretty rare. But there are some fairly well-attested ones where some monk or church construction worker chopped his fool hand off, or his thumb, or his foot, and the bishop or abbot just stuck it back on and told him to go back to work. (When you run into this, there are usually names of the still-living persons who got healed, and gory details by the saint biographer. Yugh.)

St. Aengus Celi De stuck his own hand back on. It was his writing hand, so he kinda needed it. (Yugh.)

But yeah, there’s the famous case of the soldier who visited Lourdes, and there’s a Spanish guy I can’t remember now, and the Ss. Cosmas and Damian leg surgery in a dream one (in various degrees of flashiness of telling). And then there’s the St. Nicholas of Tolentino relic healing one, which is ridiculously well-attested and full of gory details because the guy who had his writing thumb stuck back on was a professional government bureaucrat, and everybody in his city knew about his case. (Yugh, yugh, yughhhh.)

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Wow. I’m in awe.
Truly, With God all things are possible.

It is called the miracle of Calanda, where Miguel Pellicer’s leg was restored two years after being amputated, by intercession of the Virgin of the Pillar in Spain.

Is prayer powerful? Extremely. Will God restore a leg? Depends on his plan for us. It’s important not to use God as a magical vending machine IMO. It’s okay to ask him for things but sometimes we need to love him just to love him.

This is a common atheist argument, if you were not aware. Read James 4 regarding proper prayer. Also, this argument dismisses the cross - which each of us must bear, and which is different for each of us.


Even Jesus did not get all of his prayers answered with a resounding yes. Think of Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. Father, let this cup pass from me. But then of course, as an example to all of us, he told God that he was OK with it if he said no, if it is better from your perspective that I NOT get what I want. God is not a heavenly vending machine, and it is not necessarily best that we get everything we want. Sometimes we want something very much, that is actually very bad for us.

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This is puzzling to many people. Jesus is God and being God He would know that the cup would not pass from Him. Since He knew this from all eternity, why would He (who is God) ask God to let the cup pass?

Yes prayer is as effective as the Bible says. God is good and all he gives us is good (even if we don’t see it that way. In your example the wife is seeing the loss of her husbands leg as a bad thing, when it is not so. She is to trust in God. She can ask for the restoration of her husbands leg, but her trust needs to be absolute. That is present in Mark and Luke the two examples you gave, Jesus asks us to trust, ask and it will be yours. Ask and it will be given to you. Jesus expects us to trust that all he gives us is for our own good and the good of all mankind, always, without exception. God does not ever do or give us anything bad. So when we pray, this is why we add the proviso , if it be your will. Because we don’t know what is good for us, we have no idea. We are like little toddlers, we’d eat chocolate and stay up all night if we were in control, we need our parent to sort us out. So in humility we recognise this and add, your will be done. Just like Jesus taught us, when he was here in human flesh, in the garden of Gethsemane. He taught us to trust, by first telling us, as you have shown in your quotations, and then by showing us. Those quotes, are not the whole story on prayer, Jesus our parent and our teacher then goes to show us how to get our prayers answered. Not our will, but God’s. See what happened when he did God’s will, the entire human race (past, present and future) were redeemed. So if the wife in your example prays with trust for the restoration of her husbands leg then anything could happen, one of the many examples previous posters have written. God is superabundantly generous so you never know what gifts will come to this man and his wife from the prayer, as his will is always better for us than our will.


Well spoken, @Bluebright. You basically summed it all up. :grinning:

God grants us anything we seek if it is conducive to our salvation. As Jesus says more fully in the other Gospels, prayer is answered “that your joy may be full” (John 16:24)–full joy is salvation–and God will “give the good Spirit to them,” (Luke 11:13) that is the sanctifying indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The Church therefore has always understood these promises to refer to Him granting those things to us that are conducive to our salvation. He doesn’t just give us whatever we ask for.

The Roman Catechism sums this up:

For God will either grant what is asked, and thus they will obtain their wishes; or He will not grant it, and that will be a most certain proof that what is denied the good by Him is not conducive either to their interest or their salvation, since He is more desirous of their eternal welfare than they themselves.

Sometimes this might even mean suffering and trials (see Our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, for example). St. Thomas More elaborates:

St. Thomas More “Dialogue of Comfort in a Time of Tribulation” (written while he was imprisoned in the tower of London)

If we lay first, for a sure ground, a very fast faith, whereby we believe to be true all that the scripture saith (understood truly, as the old holy doctors declare it and as the spirit of God instructeth his Catholic Church), then shall we consider tribulation as a gracious gift of God, a gift that he specially gave his special friends; a thing that in scripture is highly commended and praised; a thing of which the contrary, long continued, is perilous; a thing which, if God send it not, men have need to put upon themselves and seek by penance; a thing that helpeth to purge our past sins; a thing that preserveth us from sins that otherwise would come; a thing that causeth us to set less by the world; a thing that much diminisheth our pains in purgatory; a thing that much increaseth our final reward in heaven; the thing with which all his apostles followed him thither; the thing to which our Saviour exhorteth all men; the thing without which he saith we be not his disciples; the thing without which no man can get to heaven.

Yes he was God and likely he knew. But he was also fully human. This garden scene so poignantly displays his humanity. He was conflicted! In his humanity he wanted to live and perhaps avoid the brutality of the cross; in his divinity he likely knew what he had to endure to save us. And his prayer - so raw, honestly pouring out his conflicted soul to God, and perhaps seeking strength to follow through and do what God wants. He is such a paradox - he is at once so much like us and so much unlike us.

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He also said in his prayer ‘nevertheless not my will, but your will’. To me, he was teaching us that we must abide by God’s will and not always expect relief from suffering.

But isn’t His will the same as the will of God? He is God, is He not?

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