Margaret watched as her mother prayed for the help her poor family desperately needed. Despite those prayers, the family’s poverty remained. Margaret concluded that prayer does no good.

Now, decades later, Margaret is an atheist. “It seemed to me that if prayer really worked,” she said, “it would have much more effect.” Margaret misinterpreted her mother’s prayers to be a test for God.

Prayer is not a trial balloon we send up to see if God is there. It is an opportunity He has given us to communicate with Him. To use it as a test for God’s existence is an insult to the One who created us.

Look at Psalm 145:18. There we read, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him.” For those in trouble, that promise has more value than any temporary physical help. The passage also points out that God expects something from us. When we pray, He expects us to “call upon Him in truth” (v.18) and to “fear Him” (v.19).

God’s existence is not being put to the test when we pray. We don’t make requests of Him to see if He’s real. When we pray, we are showing God that we have faith in Him and that we are willing to do what He says.

Prayer is not a test. It’s an act of worship.