I had another great email exchange recently that I wanted to share with you all. Hope this is a source of encouragement and training for us all as we seek to commune with God as we “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16)!
From: Xxxx Xxxxxx
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2012 11:53 AM
Subject: faith and prayer
Today’s Journey wrapped around “And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” ” (Mark 11:22-23)
Matthew 18:18, 19 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, IT SHALL BE DONE for them by My Father who is in heaven.
So my question is this…I have NO problem whatsoever believing that God CAN do anything! Anything. What I struggle with is can we believe He WILL do anything? I mean, according to scripture, it seems that we can believe that He will. But, what about the person for whom we stood in faith that God would heal their cancer this side of heaven and died anyway. Was that because I doubted? Or was it just part of God’s plan? I trust Him for His plan. I may not like. I may pitch a fit at first, but my heart comes around to knowing how great His love is. He is sovereign. I trust Him wholeheartedly, even though I may be caught off guard at first and lose my balance.
Do these verses literally mean that I can pray and believe that another’s heart WILL be changed to line up with God’s Word? Proverbs 21:1 says, ‘The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hands of the Lord. He turns it wherever He will.”
If I’m not seeing results, is it because of doubt? God says He is not a liar and that His Word will not return void. I don’t believe that it is idealistic to think that it is that simple. Its either Truth or its not. I have to remind myself that what I see with my mortal eye isn’t always as it appears. Maybe, the other factor is that it isn’t His timing. Truth be told, I may never see the answer to my prayer this side of heaven. But that doesn’t mean the ‘WILL” didn’t happen. Then my mind goes back to the example ‘what about the person for whom we prayed healing this side of heaven and it didn’t happen? Is it because I doubted? Then, the big question becomes how do I change the doubt?
What is your input?
Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 5:02 PM
To: Xxxx Xxxxxx
Subject: RE: faith and prayer
Xxxx…great questions about prayer. For starters, I’d love for you to check out a series I did several years ago here called Vacate…the link is below, and I think it will be helpful. Also linked below is a message in an apologetics series I did, responding to critics who ask the question, “Why should I waste my time praying when God knows what He’s going to do already?”
You are correct in saying that God CAN do anything. And He loves His people enough to listen to our hearts/requests/want to spend time with us in prayer. But His sovereign plan to glorify Himself is of His utmost concern as that is in everyone’s best interest…to know and understand who this God is that we are praying to.
If you feel that you aren’t seeing “results”, I would challenge you with two things: 1) to change your focus of prayer from results to communion with God; 2) remember that, as you have referenced, God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8) and there are always multiple reasons that He may not choose to honor requests that we present to Him. Faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) but it is not a force which obligates Him. He is sovereign, good and wise. I love this statement by Spurgeon: “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”
Keep at it…would love to see you processing my response/the messages & Scripture above with your community group and see what they think/how they can continue to encourage you as well in this area.
I look forward to hearing how the messages and the conversation with your community helped you!