If you didn’t read day 1 of this post, you’re going to need to go back and read it first. CLICK HERE.
If prayers aren’t answered and your loved one dies, is it because of your lack of faith? Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. I’m not blaming anyone. We do live in a fallen world with broken systems and broken bodies that all lead to death. Without intervention there are many of us who are going to die prematurely. There are things that don’t work out like we hoped. This is the way of life on planet earth. Nobody should be surprised at a cancer report. There are hundreds of thousands of people if not millions asking God to intervene in their natural death process. I’m not sure He is moved to intervene in most of them. Not because He doesn’t care, but because it is the way of things in this dispensation of life. We’re still in the middle of it. Christ has not returned. Sin still remains. Brokenness hasn’t been fixed yet. Sickness and disease happens, even to those He loves.
Yet some people still do get miraculously healed. In my church there is a man who has actually certifiably raised several people from the dead, including his own son who had been in the morgue for 12 hours. So what do you do with that? That’s stronger than a miraculous cancer healing even. Why do some people get healed and some do not? I really do not believe it is a matter of justice. None of us “deserve” to be healed given the time and place in life and history that we live – and the state of the broken bodies we live in. There is more to the question of why some get healed and some do not.
My bold question to you is this…. what makes your prayer stand out to God?
Why do some prayers get answered and others do not? Is life really about us and our character? If so, why don’t we see more scripture about that topic? Is God really so concerned with developing our character and seeing how we handle loss and disappointment? I challenge that way of thinking and feel strongly that God is moved by prayers that come from faith AND that glorify Him.
Prayers of Faith
First of all, the Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith is His language. It is the currency He works in. He is pleased by our faith. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” To me, faith is believing that God is for me not against me. It’s that simple and that profound. There is a lot that falls together under that idea. He is for me, not against me and He wants to know I believe it.
Here are a few other scriptures about faith that show God responds to it. So no, it is not a bad thing to believe that God moves on behalf of those with faith. These scriptures speak more to me about His concern with my faith than His concern with my character.
Matthew 9:22 But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.
Matthew 9:29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.”
Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.
Matthew 17:20 And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
These are just the first scriptures I pulled in a 5 minute search of scriptures on faith. There are a TON more. And I have always been amazed at how EVERY time someone asked Jesus to heal them the answer was always YES. Never was it recorded where Jesus answered, “well, you know my Father is more concerned with working on your character than making you whole.” Never. Ever. IF that was true, it would have been recorded at least once in the New Testament, right?
Luke 11:9 says, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” He challenges us to ask. He is calling us to pray. Certain expressions of God’s power really only come in response to prayer. God won’t do it unless we ask for it and often I think God is uninspired with our prayers!
Do you know what prayer I personally dislike? I personally can’t stand the “if it’s your will” prayer. Most often these prayers are prayed out of sincere hearts, so I don’t mean to put anyone down who has prayed these prayers, but I only mention it to help bring people out of it. I’m not sure God is inspired by these prayers. Personally, If I were God (and thank our lucky stars I am not) and people kept saying, “If it is your will, please heal so and so”… I would think, “Well, is it my will or not? Do you know my Word? Do you know what I say about healing? Why don’t you know? Stop praying mamby pamby prayers and ask me like you mean it!” I hear the Spirit of God crying out “INSPIRE ME with your faith in Me! Do you believe I am for you or not?!”
No, God is not a genie in a bottle and our “wish” is not His command. But having faith and praying big audacious prayers begins with discerning what God wants and what He wills in your life and knowing what His position is towards you. Knowing that God is for you is the first step. Knowing what His Word says about your situation also helps. This is difficult for many who come from denominational backgrounds that teach healing is not for today. Thank God my friend who raised his son from the dead didn’t listen to that teaching! Whew!
Will your prayer bring Him Glory?
God’s glory is a big deal. John Piper, author of over 50 books, wrote a blog post in 1984 on the Glory of God. I want to share a bit with you from this blog post that inspired me so much.
“Why did God create us? Isaiah 43:6-7, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth (says the Lord), everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.”
Why did God choose a people for himself and make Israel his possession? Jeremiah 13:11, “I made the whole house of Israel … cling to me, says the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise and a glory.”
Why did God rescue them from bondage in Egypt? Psalm 106:7-8, “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider thy wonderful works…but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake that he might make known his mighty power.”
Why did God spare them again and again in the wilderness? Ezekiel 20:14, “I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.”
Why didn’t God cast away his people when they rejected him as king and asked for a king like the nations? 1 Samuel 12:20-22, “Fear not, you have done all this evil yet do not turn aside from following the Lord … For the Lord will not cast away his people for his great name’s sake.”
Why did God use his sovereign power to bring back his people from exile after punishing four generations of sin? Isaiah (48:9,11) put it like this, “For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you … For my own sake, for my own sake I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”
In this blog John talks about how God’s chief goal is to glorify Himself. It sounds so conceited. It sounds so not-loving. It sounds like God is self-centered and self-righteous. People typically don’t like other people who are enamored with themselves so this poses a problem with a God who wants all the glory for Himself. THIS is the point I want you to hear from his blog: “Here is the answer of which I want to persuade you. Since God is unique as the most glorious of all beings and totally self-sufficient, he must be for himself if he is to be for us. If he were to abandon the goal of his own self-exaltation we would be the losers. His aim to bring praise to himself, and his aim to bring pleasure to his people, are one aim. They stand or fall together. I think we will see this if we ask the following question.
In view of God’s infinitely admirable beauty, power and wisdom, what would his love to a creature involve? Or to put it another way: what could God give us to enjoy that would show him most loving? There is only one possible answer, isn’t there? HIMSELF! If God would give us that which is best and most satisfying, that is, if he would love us perfectly, he must offer us no less than himself for our contemplation and fellowship and joy. “In thy presence is fullness of joy. In thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11)” (end of quote)
YES!!! Can you hear my heart resonating with this from the top of Pike’s Peak??? YES, YES, YES. God must be glorified in what we do and what we ask for!!! I am convinced that two different people can ask for the same thing and one person’s prayer will be answered while the other one’s prayer is unanswered? WHY? Because one prayer would result in God being glorified and the other is being asked out of self-glory.
So how can you get God’s attention when asking Him for something? Ask it in faith and tell Him how it is going to bring glory to His name. Seek Him in prayer, seek His will for you in His Word. Ask according to His Word and in faith knowing that He is for you. When He is glorified people are drawn to Him. Ask in such a way that HE is glorified! And then stand. Wait. Trust. Hope. And then, you will have done everything to stand. Don’t give up. He will answer. He will step into the broken and fallen dimension we live in and answer with whatever answer glorifies Him the most. I am convinced that you do have to ask, you do have to have faith, and you do have to desire that He is glorified in whatever the outcome. Then you can be sure that whatever outcome you see is the BEST answer. Will your prayer be answered according to your will? Is God a genie in a bottle? God will answer according to how He will be glorified. And the more you know from His Word about His position on your situation, the more confidence you will have in asking for big things.
Look at the following two prayers prayed for the same person. Which one do you think would get God’s attention?
1. Will you heal uncle John? I just can’t live without him. I just don’t think I can make it through life if I lose him. Please don’t take Him, I’ll do anything for you if you let him live.
2. Lord, John is a man who has been given a death diagnosis. You are the only one who can intervene. You healing him would defy the doctors who have declared death as his sentence. Everyone who hears that John has been healed miraculously will know that You and only You have done this. Your name will be glorified and lifted high so that men will see that you are the source of life and that you love us. Your scripture has shown us example after example of people who came to you and you healed them. We follow that example Lord set in your Word and we ask You to intervene. Let your name be glorified by the healing of Uncle John. I will publicly praise your name and bring glory to you. His children will be able to proclaim that the Lord Most High has touched our lives. Now we ask and wait and thank you that you love us so much to give us Yourself. Thank you for working in Uncle John’s life.
I’m not trying to give you a formula to manipulate God. I’m trying to help you see that God responds to faith and to His name being glorified. Things aren’t going to always work out the way we had hoped but we can know and trust that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He doesn’t change. His name must be glorified for us to find pleasure in Him and He seeks ways to glorify Himself. He glorifies Himself out of His love for us – to be all that we need Him to be. He wants us to have faith and He wants us to seek His glory. I challenge you to dream big and ask audacious prayers with the purpose of seeing God glorified. Your life and your prayers will never be the same.
Mark Batterson, in his book, The Circle Maker, says that if you don’t believe that God is for you you will pray small timid prayers; if you do believe it, then you’ll pray big audacious prayers. And one way or another, your small timid prayers or big audacious prayers will change the trajectory of your life and turn you into two totally different people. Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.
As Mark says, “Until His sovereign will becomes your sanctified wish, your prayer life will be unplugged from its power supply.” Getting what we want is not the goal. The goal is glorifying God by praying boldly for the promises, miracles and dreams He wants for us.
I highly recommend The New York Times Best Seller, The Circle Maker, Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, if you are facing mountains and need encouragement in your life.