"And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." -James 5:15-16
"Have faith," people will often say when troubles come along, even people who don't claim to follow Jesus Christ. Billy Joel once crooned about "keeping the faith" complete with a music video. Faith is popular.
When people tell us to have "faith" though, we ought to ask, "Faith in what? Faith in God? Faith in the good nature of the universe? Faith in our own karma? [By the way, in what bank is karma held, and who are the tellers?] We need to make sure we are building our faith on the right foundation.
We do want to see miracles. We want to pray for Grandma's crippling arthritis or cancer and see her healed; we don't want her suffering. We want to pray for healing and freedom and see them - mercifully, beautifully - take place.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." - John 14:12
But, does God even want to heal Grandma? What if my faith isn't strong enough, or her faith isn't strong enough? In what exactly are we supposed to be having faith? How do we walk arm in arm with Jesus and do the "greater things" that he promised?
We want the power of God to work through us to open the eyes of the blind and free people from oppressive suffering. If God also wants to heal them, why don't we see more miracles around us?
The next few articles will explore the issue of faith and some of the simple errors that we make, errors that get in the way of our prayers.
Mistake #1: Forgetting Who God Is:
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." -John 4:24
Too often when we pray, we consider God incorrectly. We come to Him with incorrect assumptions about who He is. If we think deep inside, "Oh, God doesn't want to heal Grandma," then how can we pray for her in faith? When we pray, it is vitally important that we approach God according to what is true about Him.
God is alive and He still does miracles: We can declare this with confidence by His constant work in our lives and the lives of countless people we meet through our ministry. Jesus Christ is alive and working in the world today! We know multitudes of people who have been healed and freed, cleansed and miraculously given provision. We know the daily guidance He gives us and the miracles we ourselves see. Precious people around the world can testify to the power of Jesus still at work today. (Several stories will come up during this series of articles, so be sure to read them all! For past stories, see the links below.)
God is a God of Truth: When He says something, we can trust Him. He loves us to trust Him!
"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" - Numbers 23:19
"Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." - James 2:23
God pays attention to everything: He sees us and all the details of our lives. He knows what is going on with us.
"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." - Luke 12:6
God loves us extravagantly: One of the greatest insults we can give God is to suggest that He doesn't love us. His love is so massive and deep and constant that when we catch just a whiff of it, it blows us over. He loves us with great patience, with longsuffering as He deals with our sin and foolishness and doubt and fear. He moves constantly in our lives to bring us into an ever deeper, truer, more pure relationship with Him. He doesn't always do things the easy way, the way we often want Him to. He does things the right way - the way that will last.
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." -Ephesians 2:4-7
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 8:38
When He doesn't heal Grandma, and she feels like she doesn't have enough faith and that God doesn't love her, what do we say to her? In the leading of the Spirit, we need to put our arms around her as Jesus would, and we need to tell her, "Grandma, God does love you. Don't be afraid. He loves you magnificently, and He longs for you to know His love. Trust Him. He's very willing to take care of you in every way. It's going to be okay. Trust Him." He may still heal her, but whether He does or not, He absolutely loves Grandma. As Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him," (Job 13:15).
If we are going to approach God, we absolutely need to approach Him in the truth of who He is. That's where faith starts.
"Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich [man] glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD." - Jeremiah 9:23-24
[To be continued in the next article with, "Faith And Miracles Part II: A Mustard Seed and An Empty Fridge"]