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Does prayer change God or us?
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We all know about prayer. We pray privately and corporately. We pray from books, and we pray from the heart. We pray for mercy, for wisdom, for courage, for healing, for our daily bread, for nearly every aspect of our lives. Whatever the need, as an old hymn goes,we take it to the Lord in prayer. And we expect an answer.

After all, Jesus himself reminds us in John's gospel - in all the gospels, really - that we can pray in his name, expecting that God will hear our prayers, and that God will provide what we need in answer to prayer. Or, as a sign I saw hanging in a sacristy read, "It's when I stop praying that the little coincidences stop happening."

When someone is miraculously healed of a wasting or even fatal disease, is it because God changed his mind? Or, was the healing a result of our faith?

Like the woman in the gospel story - the one who touched the hem of Jesus' garment, expecting that she would be healed, and Jesus proclaimed that her faith had made her whole - does the act of a faithfilled prayer change us, such that we are made whole? Does prayer change God or us? Maybe a bit of both.

As James wrote in his epistle, the heartfelt prayers of the righteous avail much (James 5:16). Prayer, at its simplest, is a conversation with God, and that when we pray, things usually change, and often for the better. But, and very importantly, we also recognize that the
unwillingness to be changed is characteristic of a person who does not pray.

We believe that prayer will change things. We believe that prayer changes us. Without unified prayer it is difficult to achieve growth, unity and a strong identity. Prayer is a gift to us.

Richard Foster, author of "A Celebration of Discipline," once referred to prayer as the heart finding its true home. The future will be shaped by the prayer of its people today,and I hope that you will be inspired to pray with us. As we all begin to pray together - in one direction - I believe that God will open a storehouse of spiritual blessings for us all.

The Rev. Daniel Crockett serves as the rector at St. Simon's Episcopal Church in Conyers, Ga.