"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name." Ephesians 3:12-15
Have you ever made this statement, "All I can do is pray"?
Think about what you are saying when you mindlessly utter that sentence.
First, you are implying that prayer isn't that powerful of a tool. Secondly, you are saying that praying is a bail out when you don't know what else to do.
Neither one of those are even remotely true - not even close!
Paul is concerned that the Ephesian believers are becoming discouraged over his prolonged imprisonment and suffering. And let's be honest, suffering does get discouraging. One of the ways it gets discouraging is because you continue to pray and continue to suffer. Therefore, since your prayer doesn't relieve your suffering you conclude in your suffering that prayer is not effective.
If that was true then, think how much more it is true in this instant everything microwave world?
Here's what Paul knew that he wanted the Ephesians to know and we need to grasp - prayer is a powerful weapon against discouragement.
For one reason, discouragement can cause us to think that prayer doesn't work and cause us to give up prayer. That is self-defeating because faith surrenders to frustration.
Also, when we continue to pray despite the lack of visible results, we hold onto faith and keep God involved in our circumstances. That's powerful. Our faith sustains our hope.
Thirdly, continuing to pray in the midst of discouraging circumstances shows an understanding of what pray is and what prayer does. Prayer is communicating with God knowing that His spiritual forces and resources are at work in our behalf.
That is where the hope comes from! It comes from knowing that God is at work even when we can't see God at work!
Here is the bottom line - you either believe in prayer or you don't. If you only believe in prayer when you see visible results, you really don't believe in prayer. You are hoping in results not in prayer. If you really believe in prayer you will continue to pray despite the lack of visible results. You continue to pray because your relationship with God is so important you must be in constant communication with Him.
Prayer must be a first response not a last resort because prayer is about relationship NOT about results!