God Pleasing Faith, The Necessity of Faith and Prayer, Lesson 11,
Today we will depart from our Hebrews 11 passage while still remaining on the subject of faith but will include in this lesson faith's relation to prayer.
I taught this lesson in March of 2000 over 15 years ago and times have changed much since those days but the Bible remains timeless and the truth of those days, thank God, remains the truth today.
So today we speak of Faith and Prayer!
Faith is the foundation upon which prayer is exercised.
Faith is more than believing that God is, it is that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him
So who then, does the right faith always center itself upon?
The faith which creates powerful praying is the faith which centers itself upon a powerful Person.
We know that if you want a request answered, request it of a person who has power to answer it.
A child quickly learns which one of his parents has the power to provide his or her request.
There are some things only mother can provide and others that only father can provide.
But faith in Christ's ability to do and to do greatly, is the faith which prays greatly.
Great faith believes that God IS and that he is rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Remember the leper that took hold upon the power of Christ.
He did not simply ask for comfort and perhaps a little relief from pain, he cried: "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean."
Those with little faith may have simply asked for some comforting word but to ask to be made clean, that takes believing that Christ has power.
Consider your prayers! Do they put God to the test, do they test His power, or are they prayers that are so general you never know whether God answers or not!
The Leper said, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean."
It thou will is the key.
The leper believed that it was just a matter of the will of Christ.
Not a matter of whether or not he had the power.
Thou canst make me clean!
He centered his faith in Christ's ability to do and it secured healing for him.
Jesus Christ wants this very point to be in the forefront of prayer.
Do you believe that all power is given unto me?
Do you believe I am able to do this?
He said this to the blind men in Matt 9:28-29, Believe ye that I am able to do this?" They said unto Him, Yea, Lord. Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you."
Jesus Christ was always about the task of inspiring men to have faith.
He challenges all to believe that he is able to do.
His last instruction to his disciples before returning to the Father was this passage in Matthew:
Matthew 28:16-18, Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Do you believe this? Does your belief bring you to obedience to the Word of God?
For faith is obedient; it goes when commanded as the nobleman who came to Jesus did when his son was deathly sick.
Faith acts like the man born blind who washed in the pool of Siloam when told to wash.
Faith casts the net like Peter on Gennesaret when Jesus commands, instantly, without question or doubt.
Faith takes away the stone from the grave of Lazarus promptly.
A praying faith keeps the commandments of God and does those things which are well pleasing in His sight.
It asks, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" and answers quickly, "Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth."
Obedience helps faith, and faith, in turn, helps obedience.
To do God's will is essential to true faith, and faith is necessary to practical obedience.
Yes, faith results in the moving of mountains but the mountains must wait for the command of God.
Faith waits in patience before God and is prepared for God's seeming delays in answering prayer.
Faith does not grow weary in waiting nor does faith lose hope of God's hand in the matter.
Faith takes God at His word and lets him take what time he chooses in fulfilling his purposes and in carrying out his work.
Faith simply regards such times of waiting as God's desire that faith increase by the testing.
Faith is given the requirement to wait so that faith grows stronger and stronger by what many would consider delays.
The case of Lazarus was an instance where there was delay, where the faith of two good women was greatly exercised.
Lazarus was critically ill, and his sisters sent for Jesus.
But for reasons they knew not, Jesus Christ delayed His going to help His sick friend.
Their pleas were urgent, they pled:
“Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick,"
Don't you think that Jesus should have been moved by the earnest request of those he loved?
But he was not moved within the time table of the women's earnest request and their request to them seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Their faith was being tried for good reason as Jesus Christ explained to them when he came.
And our Lord's seeming tardiness, that is what a heart that is weak on faith says, appeared to bring about disaster for while Jesus delayed Lazarus died.
And if Lazarus died then all hope is lost isn't it?
Isn't that the natural conclusion of the human heart?
Once death comes all is ended they reasoned.
But our reasonings are not God's reasonings.
Death is no boundary to God so Jesus Christ used this situation in the interest of increasing the faith of these two good women.
We are so used to having boundaries but we must remember by faith that God has no boundaries.
So here is the key to God's seeming delays in answer to our prayers.
The delay of Jesus Christ was exercised in the interests of a greater good.
And Jesus Christ is the only one who knows that greater good.
This is where faith comes in and where it is tested.
John 11:14-15, Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes, that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
Think of it. Mary and Martha weeping and mournful and crying and sorrowful and Jesus was glad that Lazarus had died which had caused them all of the suffering of weeping and wailing.
Jesus was glad because there was a greater good to be realized because of it.
Remember this when you complain against God because he doesn't operate on your timetable!
God makes the timetables, we don't!
In the interest of urgency we are willing to accept the lesser of two evils but Jesus Christ will only accept the greater good even if it means weeping and wailing and sorrow for a moment by his children.
Isn't this what you do as a parent when you apply the rod to your children?
Don't you bring about suffering for the greater good?
We are so quick to blame God for what we consider disasters in our life but we do not know of the greater good that God will bring to pass.
Faith tells us we are not to fear.
Jesus will come but patience is required for he has the greater good to consider.
What we consider a delay will only serve to make his coming the more rich and blessed to us.
So what does faith say? It says to wait for him.
He will come in his own good time.
He has work to do apart from our own small petty view of things.
And a part of that work is to strengthen our faith by the delay.
He desires in us the grace of patience for patience has its perfect work in the school of delay.
Faith gathers strength by waiting and praying.
So many things have to be done in order for you to know God's answer.
And God has chosen to answer your prayers within the natural order of things.
He could answer them by miracles but the miracle of God is that he does it within the natural order of things.
He has declared to work all things together for good and he does it without miracles so to encourage and promote faith.
That in itself is the greatest of all miracles if I can use that word in this context for I use it as a wonder or a wonderful thing!
Remember how fervently Jacob prayed to be delivered from Esau.
This was a matter of life or death he thought.
But before that prayer could be answered, there was much to be done with, and for Jacob.
Jacob had to be changed as well as Esau.
Jacob had to be made into a new man, before Esau could be.
Jacob had to be converted to God, before Esau could be converted to Jacob.
If anything, we ought to-be suspicious of quick answers to prayer.
If the answer is quick we ought to wonder if the answer is from God.
So many times we are the ones to answer our own prayers because we want a specific, right now, answer to prayer and not necessarily God's will in the matter.
So waiting is the norm because waiting takes faith and a yielding to God's will.
And praying is to be done from a yielded will.
Look at the power that is at our disposal though prayer.
Listen to the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples.
We have heard them so often with our ears and with our minds but have we heard them with our hearts?
John 14:12-14, 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. And whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My Name; I will do it."
He that believeth on Jesus Christ shall do the works that He has done.
And not only do those works but do greater works because he shall ask the father in Jesus name for power to do greater works and the father shall provide that which is needed to do greater works.
What is implicit in this instruction?
It is implicit that Jesus Christ is at the center of my life, he is the fountain of my life, all my thirst is satisfied in Him.
All self interest has been banished and obedience to his word is uppermost.
The will of my flesh has been displaced by His will.
Because of this Jesus Christ can safely commit the praying to my will and grant whatever my will asks of Him.
My wanter has been fixed as He conforms me to his Son.
Jesus Christ repeated the exhortation to: "Have faith in God.”
This is where it all begins.
Without faith, praying is empty and simply religious, without the power of God.
Faith will make God's will your will and praying with that kind of will will result in Jesus doing what ye will.
If ye shall ask anything in My Name, I will do it."
How astounding are these statements of what God will do in answer to prayer!
They are astounding because few have the faith to put this engine into drive.
Most of us are still parked in the driveway.
But faith in Christ is the basis of all working, and of all praying.
All wonderful works depend on wonderful praying, and all wonderful praying is done in the Name of Jesus Christ.
How simple this is but how hard for that which is natural in us to execute.
How we complicate prayer into more than the simple asking in the name of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ gives us the formula, a simple formula, that of coming to God in the name of His son that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
So all asking is to glorify the Father in the Son.
Everything else is to be renounced, relinquished and abandoned.
The name of Christ - the- Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - must be supremely sovereign, in the time and the subject of prayer.
Remember that this is much more than the attaching of the words, "In Jesus name" at the end of our praying.
This is done simply acknowledging that we have made every attempt that our askings do glorify the Father in the Son.
By adding those words it is our hope to God that what we have asked for does indeed glorify the Father in the Son.
Without that, our ending "In Jesus Name" simply becomes ritual, almost like a good luck charm.