Following Jesus – Making Disciples – Changing the World

Faith

Have you noticed how often Jesus spoke of faith and how often he responded to those who came to him in faith?  Read the story of the woman of Sidon in Matthew 15 or the Roman centurion in Matthew 8. The key to their requests being answered was faith.

This week we will be looking at the prayer of faith in James 5 and at the strong promise that the prayer of faith will heal the sick. As I read that piece out of James, I wonder if I pray in faith.

Why is faith is so important? Why do we need to pray in faith? One answer is that faith is the recognition that our help comes from the Lord and from him alone.  Bringing our request to the Lord in faith is not just trying one of several options. It is an expression of our desperation and our absolute dependence upon God. If he does not help us, there is no help.

When the women of Sidon came to the Lord and knelt before him with her request of healing for her daughter she was desperate. If Jesus would not or could not help, her daughter was lost. There was no other help.  She, however, was sure not only that he could help but would help. That was faith.

“Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord., Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)

But there is another reason. Prayer is not magic. It is the joining of our hearts with the heart of God and agreeing with him for his purposes in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  It is asking for what God desires to give. It is faith that what God chooses for us is the best. 

I wonder if I have such faith. I wonder if I do not more often pray “I hope so” prayers.  Such praying is far too often praying for what I want. Such praying is telling God rather than listening to him. 

Paul prayed an “I hope so” prayer when he asked that God would heal his “thorn in the flesh.”

 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12: 8, 9)

Only after serious conversation with God did Paul change his prayer to what God wanted to do in and through him. That prayer God answered, for God’s power did indeed rest on him. Paul had to quit telling God what to do. He had to have faith. He had to trust and be committed to God’s purpose.  His prayer in the end was a prayer of faith.

May God give me the wisdom and passion to pray for what God wants and for what he promises to give. When I am sure of what he wants and promises, and I pray for those things, that is the prayer that God answers.  That is the prayer of faith.

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