I was having a conversation one with someone who was trying to point out the efficacy of supplements.
My question was how can the efficacy be proven?
For example a person has some medical problem so they decided to take a certain supplement to help with the problem. After a month or so the persons condition improves. So naturally they put it down to the supplement. However there is a possibility that the person would have had the same improvement without taking the supplement. How can you prove the improvement was down to the supplement? You cannot. If lengthy clinical trials are conducted there could be some provable correlation between the improvement and the supplement but it could still be inconclusive.
With prayer, to some degree the same problem exists. How can we say categorically that an answer to our prayer was in fact that?. Perhaps the same thing would have happened without any prayer being uttered. We can’t say unless we can physically go back in time and go through the same experience with/without prayer to compare the result.
In my case I can think of times where my prayers were answered. I have no doubt about it. Have you ever had a “Gideon’s fleece” moment? I am fully convinced that a prayer of mine was answered in the same way that Jehovah answered Gideon’s request of Jehovah to give a sign though the wetting of a fleece on one occasion and the fleece being dry on the next. It was a sure indication that Jehovah answered the prayer. I asked similarly about a situation in my life and I believe categorically that my prayer was answered. However, could I prove it to anyone else? Probably not. Some might believe if others may be skeptical and put it down to coincidence.
I believe that having a prayer answered can only really be understood by that person individually. Of course we have examples written in the Bible of Jehovah answering prayers. Hannah for example. Or Daniel in the lion’s den. No doubt you can think of many others. But to some, there is always the possibility that such prayer only seemed to have been answered. Have you experienced praying but there does not seem to be any answer forthcoming? The same situation that is being prayed about does not change and despite many hours/ days of supplication still no answer comes. Perhaps what Jesus said is important. If you have faith the size of a mustard grain you can move a mountain. Also when the official showed faith in Jesus healing power he was moved to say (Matthew 8:10) . . .When Jesus heard that, he was amazed and said to those following him: “I tell you the truth, with no one in Israel have I found so great a faith. . .
So could the response to prayer be related to the amount of faith we have? I really don’t know. But why some prayers seem to be answered and others seemingly not is something I cannot know. Also Jehovah may answer prayers in unexpected fashion and we just don’t recognise it as an answer until we look back.
We only see a small part of the jigsaw. Jehovah can see the whole picture.As was already referred to the scripture in PS 65:2 says he is the “hearer” of prayer. Well we can be a hearer or a listener without doing anything, which in some cases is all that is needed. But he is also the “answerer” of prayers. As to when/ how and why is something that we cannot stipualte as every case is different.