It is incredibly tough to get those who do not believe in prayer to understand how it works. Even those who do believe in God often pray in strange ways and then get frustrated by the results. Since prayer recently helped me regain my work-related Twitter account after it was unjustly suspended, I will try to use that story to explain how it works.

First, a recap:

  • After I wrote a story on Iran for work, an apologist for the regime Tweeted “I will find you and kill you … death to America.”
  • Twitter said it “could not determine” if that violated its terms of service. When I publicly questioned that decision, my account was suspended. Countless appeals were ignored over the course of one month.
  • The company’s press account ignored my emails and the emails of my co-workers.
  • A Washington, D.C. spokesman for Twitter ignored an inquiry by my employer.
  • Public pressure from countless Twitter followers and a story by WND did nothing to forward the process along.
  • My attempts to get certain conservative media outlets and personalities to take up my cause fell on deaf ears.
  • Well-connected people said they were at a loss as to how to help me. They essentially said my cause was hopeless.

During this whole ordeal I had a conversation with a friend about well-known personalities who did nothing to help me. I told my friend that it didn’t bother me because if God ultimately wanted to use them to help me, then He would. I prayed for an entire month, and last night I prayed throughout most of the night when an idea came to me: I would email Twitter’s CEO. I would make the case that he needed to intervene on my behalf. Then the words came to mind. When work started I didn’t know his email, but I took a chance on what I thought it might be — and I was right. Within 30 minutes of emailing him, my suspension was lifted and I received an apology from Twitter. A friend of mine said that what I did was something straight out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I must admit, I did feel like the “The Sausage King of Chicago: Abe Froman.”

I nearly broke down into tears, knowing that my prayers had been answered. For someone who writes news for a living, Twitter is indispensable. Six-years worth of contacts and personalized news lists were restored.

Twitter apologyThis is just one story of many that I can tell where prayer has worked miracles in my life. If you’re interested in understanding how I pray and prepare for prayer, then here is the general blueprint:

  • A man’s heart must first be open to the possibility that God exists and that He and His angels hear our prayers.
  • We all have a lot to be grateful for, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. Prayer should take place after acknowledging those blessings. I often try to think about all the things that I am grateful for — to the point where I almost become overwhelmed with emotion.
  • Pray for the ability to discern God’s will and strength carry it out. If you are doing God’s will, then success is guaranteed.
  • Realize that what you may perceive as setbacks or failures on God’s part are never such things. If a man with night-vision was guiding you through a dark path and you occasionally slipped, would it make sense to get angry at him? How foolish would you feel if the path was suddenly illuminated and you realized that without the man’s help you would have fallen into a giant crevasse? In my story with Twitter, what would have happened if I shook my fist in anger and gave up when at least 10 different so-called media allies turned down my requests for help? Answer: I would not have come to a point where I would successfully email an insanely-busy CEO with a net worth of roughly $450 million.
  • Believe that the crosses that you carry are the burdens you must bear. There are very good reasons why hardship exists. With each obstacle we overcome, there are lessons to be learned. You should find a way to be grateful — even for those things in your life that cause pain or, at a cursory level, seem unwanted. Pray for the ability to understand the lessons God is trying to teach you.
  • Work hard. Prepare. Know your God-given talents and then hone them to perfection. Take my situation with Twitter. Imagine that I prayed, “God, if it is your will, please assist me in regaining my Twitter account,” and then sat on my butt waiting for a miracle that seemed to be denied. Now imagine me asking God why he denied my prayer and His response: “I made you a talented writer, but instead of writing to Twitter’s CEO and trusting in me, you took that talent for granted and expected some sort of dazzling light show. That was kind of a weird move on your part, don’t you think?”

I can probably add to this list, but that is a good start. I’m confident that someone who takes this advice will see amazing results over time. It is a humbling experience to see just how prayers can be perfectly answered. Often I reflect on how seamlessly some of them have been answered and cannot help but well up. A passing glimpse at perfection — true perfection — is a thing of beauty, but at the same time it can be emotionally crippling. Perhaps others have had a different experience, but my own brief tastes of infinite knowledge and infinite love can only be dwelt in for mere moments. It is a paralyzing epiphany to realize that on many levels we are comically insignificant beings, yet infinitely loved by our Creator.

If you believe in God, then I hope my prayer blueprint can be of use to you. If you do not believe in God, then hopefully I have given you some worthwhile insight into a Catholic mind that’s been around since 1979. In either case, thanks for reading and know that there’s a good chance that on random nights I am praying for you, too.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

14 comments

  1. I was glad to see you back in my Twitter feed today, and it’s great to see that it was a result of God being awesome, as per usual! 🙂

    The power of prayer is something that should never be underestimated. Being active in prayer is life changing, and it’s amazing to see how God works through our prayers. Sometimes He gives us what we ask for (and sometimes not), but other times He blows the door off its hinges and blesses us far more than we ever anticipated. It’s incredible and very humbling.

    1. Thanks, Grant! It was a strange month trying to work without my personalized news feeds or the ability to interact with all the good people I’ve met over the years. I’m glad it’s over, but like I said — I learned a lot. Indeed, God has truly blessed me. I am very thankful.

    1. I think that impatience is something we all struggle with on occasion. It’s easy to forget that we’re the ones with the limited perspective. It’s hard to rid ourselves of that desire to be in control at all times — even thought most of the “control” we think we have is an illusion.

  2. ahh, your prayer worked for a twitter account problem but while you were waiting on that prayer to be answered (while doing all the foot work yourself) thousands of children under the age of 5 died of starvation while their parents prayed for food. Congratulations on your twitter account, maybe you can use it to feed a few starving people now.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Myatheistlife. I appreciate it.

      As someone who works in the media, Twitter is incredibly important to being able to do my job well. I have personalized news lists that I’ve made over the course of six years. I have personal contacts (e.g., terrorism experts) I interact with on a regular basis. I find news through those lists faster, which literally translates into millions of page views for our site. That in turns keeps the lights on and keeps me employed. By having a job, that does allow me to feed the poor through works of charity.

      If you spent more time trying to think objectively about things like this and less time trying to come up with condescending comments, then you may have grasped that point.

      Luke 12:48: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

      Indeed, my problems are not of those who are living in third-world countries. I am blessed. Much has been given to me, and therefore much is expected. That does not mean that God is not listening to my prayers or that He doesn’t care about the life He has been so kind to give me.

      You may want to choose your words more carefully on this blog, given that I am more than capable of dealing with two-bit snark thrown at me from the sidelines.

    2. Good response, Doug.

      However, I have to say that charity, especially charity for Africa, tends to be a lost cause. Why? Because Africa is a hellhole that continually proves the adage of giving me fish and teaching them how to fish. On top of that, you also have to worry about charity groups embezzling your money and that money never touching the lives you hope to make better. You know what would be better? Making African countries viable economies so that the people there are largely employed, can take care of themselves, and take care of those among them that still fell through the cracks far better than any Westerner thousands of miles away can.

      https://www.billwhittle.com/trifecta/hear-shocking-thing-rock-star-bob-geldof-said-week

    3. Thanks, vunderguy. It is rather telling that myatheistlife had nothing more to say after his drive-by trolling. Atheists tend to disappear when they go up against a man of faith who is happy to step into the arena.

      My problem with a guy like him is that he puts me in a difficult situation — I don’t want to publicly speak about my works of charity, but yet it’s hard not to when he implies that I’m some sort of self-centered jerk who prays about Twitter so I can keep up to date on Kim Kardashian’s butt. I’m glad my response seems to have been sufficient enough to make him think twice about coming back with more snark.

      Anyway, nice link. Bono has had a similar epiphany as it pertains to how to best help families in third-world nations.

    4. @Douglas

      Agreed on all points, Doug. Especially that part about Kardashian’s butt. Kanye really is crazy if he thinks that Armenian booty is anything to write home about. Bruce Genner’s is far better 😀

      I really do fear, though, that the press slandering that rock star as a greedy Capitalist pig, never mind the fact that him and Ethopia winning and being better off are tied and that he makes absolute sense, is going to make even his efforts for not when they kick ass.

  3. Very empowering article Doug, so glad your faith was rewarded. There are times where you feel like you’re on one end of the tunnel and there’s a blockade, but the blockade shall only exist as long as you desire it to. With a quiet thought and a gentle voice, you can command the blockade to collapse and emerge from the tunnel. Tweet in peace.

  4. Thank you so much for the prayer guidelines! It’s so easy to forget how to pray, sometimes, especially when we deal with so many distractions. 🙂
    I’m adding “Remember to smile” to my list of things to do while praying and waiting for answers to prayer. I sometimes have to remind myself that people will not be very comfortable around me if I don’t smile from time to time.

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