We have a lot of people on our prayer list these days. Its often difficult to keep up with how many people we know, and some we don’t, who need God’s help to deal with pain; sickness; loss; and just the bitter struggles of these days.
Unfortunately, there are many that feel they haven’t heard an answer from God (weren’t listening or paying attention), or seen His handiwork, and start to lose their faith and maybe even start do doubt God’s very existence.
I would like to speak today to those people (maybe its you) that feel this way and hopefully bring some light into your darkness that may restore your trust and faith in God.
Let’s begin by going back to the Bible. The reason I’d like to do so is that I am often asked: “Why don’t we see the healing power of God as they did in the Biblical days?”
We’re going to take a brief look at Jesus’ ministry here on earth and the miraculous healings he performed and see if we can ascertain where those healings came from… or perhaps more accurately, why they came.
It didn’t end when Jesus was rose back up to His Father. His Disciples carried on His works long after He left. I am not even going to speak on how many people were healed by Jesus’ Disciples, or how many “miracles” they performed.
The Widow’s Son – Christ’s Compassion (He Knows)
Luke 7:11-15 – “11Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry!’ he said. 14Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. ‘Young man,’ he said, ‘I tell you, get up.’ 15Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.”
This miracle was done by Jesus Himself and not asked for by anyone. We need to remember His compassion on us and never forget what He told us in…
Matthew 6:7-8 – “7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
The Ruler’s Daughter – Faith of a Parent (Family)
Mark 5:21-23 – “21Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. 22Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, 23pleading fervently with him. ‘My little daughter is dying,’ he said. ‘Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.’”
…On His way, He
heals a woman who had suffered
for twelve years with a flow of blood…
Mark 5:35-43 – “35While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, ‘Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.’
36But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.’”
37Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39He went inside and asked, ‘Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only sleeping.’”
40The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41Holding her hand, he said to her, ‘Talitha koum,’ which means ‘Little girl, get up!’ 42And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.”
Was she brought back to life by her own faith? Did she ask God to heal her? No, this was the faith of her Father. His belief in what God can do is what gave life back to her.
We need to have this kind of faith for all those we Love… and we’ve got to believe in the healing power of The Almighty God!
The Paralyzed Man – Faith of Others (The Church)
Luke 5:17-25 – “17One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal those who were ill.
18Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’
21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’ 24But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.”
Once again, did the paralyzed man ask to be healed? No, it was the faith of those around him, Let’s call that the Church in this case.
As I opened with this morning, we pray for many… but are we believing God will deliver healing to them?
The Two Blind Men – Our Own Faith
Matthew 9:27-31 – “27After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!’”
28They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, ‘Do you believe I can do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they told him, ‘we do.’”
29Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘Because of your faith, it will happen.’ 30Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, ‘Do not tell anyone of this.’ 31But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.”
What did I try to emphasize there? Your faith!
I am not at all saying that you shouldn’t pray for yourself (a little help here God) but, if you’ve read (and believed) the Bible… it’s kind of a moot point isn’t it?
Know and understand that God’s on your side. Believe and trust in Him unconditionally and, whatever the outcome is… it is as God willed it to be!
I could give you the Bible references for at least 38, but there were far more undocumented. As an example:
- Turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana.
- Gave a miraculous catch of fish to disciples.
- Cast out a legion of demons.
- Walked on water and calmed a storm.
- Healed many and fed four thousand men (plus women and children). Twice!
- Cleansed ten lepers on the way to Jerusalem.
- Raised Lazarus from the grave in Bethany.
So, Why not Us?
Are you doubting yourself? Are you questioning your own faith? Why isn’t God answering you?!
So, why didn’t He?
- Is this a me issue?
- Am I doing something wrong?
- Am I standing when I should be sitting?
- Or am I sitting when I should be kneeling?
- Am I using the wrong words?
- Should I be speaking in the King James version?
- Am I speaking into the wrong end of the phone?
Maybe you saw somebody who prayed for another person to be healed and then that person was healed. So, you prayed for your friend or your relative, but they weren’t healed. Because of that, you wondered, “God, I know you could do that, but why didn’t you?”
I don’t have all the answers. However, I want to give you some biblical thoughts and some conversation starters for you and God to talk about. God actually always answers our prayers. It’s just not necessarily how we want them to be answered or how we think He should answer.
Here are four possibilities I’ve come up (with my Pastor friends) with as to why God might not have answered, or didn’t answer, our prayers:
- Broken Relationships
I am not talking about your relationship with God. I am talking about your relationship with others. If you are like me and you believe the Bible is unchanging, having a broken relationship with another person actually has a lot to do with the effectiveness of your prayers.
Mark 11:24-25 – “24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Remove hatred from your hearts…
1 John:20 – “20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
In other words, we can’t go around saying, “I love you God, but I can’t stand that guy.” The fact is you need to fix your broken relationships. Your relationships with each other have a direct bearing on your relationship with God.
- Wrong Motives/Priorities
When you pray, maybe your motives may be wrong.
James 4:3 – “3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Remember, its always about God’s will… not yours.
Proverbs 21:2 – “2A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
While so many people on Earth have nothing, we spend much of our prayer currency praying for more things. Sometimes, without even realizing, we pray selfish prayers when what God really wants is for us to pray selfless prayers. When was the last time you spent all your prayer time praying for someone else?
- God has Something Different
Maybe God has something different in mind than you have. What God has in mind is always better than what we have in mind for ourselves. God’s will is always better. God’s will always matters more than our will.
Jesus acknowledged that truth when He was preparing to go to the cross. He’s in the garden and He’s praying, “Father, if you’re willing, please take this cup of suffering away.” Jesus didn’t want to die. Who does? But, He goes on to say, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Luke 22:42 – “42 ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’”
Even though we think we know what’s best for us, God knows better because He is all knowing, and He is everywhere. Scripture says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything, according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him.”
We can have confidence that we can ask for anything, and if it fits into His will, He hears us, and He responds. We can also have confidence that if we are asking for something that’s outside of His will, even when we think it’s best for us, God loves us enough not to give it to us.
There have been so many times I have prayed for something that I thought was what should happen, that I thought was best for me, but God did something different.
- You Don’t Truly Believe
Have compassion on us and help us!
Mark 9:23 – “Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Jesus is saying here, very clearly, “your faith matters.” Unfortunately, there are many people claiming to be Christians who don’t actually believe that God is going to do anything when they pray.
Others will see your lack of faith and it will take away their ability to grow in God’s light as they see it is doing nothing for you!
Here’s a story: There was a pastor and a bar owner. The pastor was upset because there was a bar down the street, and they were selling alcohol. The pastor openly called alcohol the devil’s drink. He gathered all of his people together and they had prayer meetings to pray against the bar. Well, something worked because one day lightning struck the bar, and the bar burned to the ground. So, the bar owner sued the church.
When they were standing before the judge, the judge asks the bar owner, “What happened?” The bar owner responded, “This pastor prayed and because of his prayers, God struck us and now I lost everything.” The pastor responds, “Wait, that wasn’t our intention. That isn’t what we meant at all. We just had a harmless prayer meeting. That’s not why the lightning struck. This isn’t our fault.”
The judge looked at the pastor and said, “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. We have a bar owner that believes in the power of prayer, and a pastor who doesn’t.”
That might sound silly to us, but how often do we have people in our lives who call themselves Christians who don’t actually believe in the power of prayer.
NEVER: Wish evil upon someone. Pray with vengeance or spite in your heart. If you do, and whomever it is you’re praying about is not a believer… It may come as you’ve asked!
If you try everything you think will work and then you pray, it’s pretty clear you don’t believe in the power of prayer. Prayer should be our first instinct, not our last resort.
James 1:6 – “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
That person shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Watch this Lesson
- God Knows (Christ’s compassion on the Widow) We can’t forget who we are (children of God, Brothers and Sisters in Jesus). We can’t forget the compassion of Christ. Give thanks daily for all you “do” have and not concentrate on other things or become distracted thinking God isn’t watching.
- Those you Love (The Father’s Daughter) – Maybe members of our families or our friends don’t have your faith… don’t believe in what you believe in – give of yourselves freely that they may see God’s Love.
- Your Church (the Paralyzed Man) – Never underestimate the power of the Church.
- Yourself (The Blind Men) – You cannot simply pray. Without belief/faith, you are wasting your prayers.
I wonder what prayers you have been praying that you thought God wasn’t answering. That in truth, He was. He just answered them differently. He just answered them in ways that you haven’t thought of, or couldn’t have even imagined.
Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing. He’s been doing it for quite a while. Here are three things I believe about prayer:
- Believe that God can!
- Believe that God will!
- Believe that even if He doesn’t, you will still believe!
Prayer reminds me, I’m not in control. It’s not about me, but it keeps me close to the One who is control.
Our biggest disease was our sin, and that was all taken from us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
How many have become closer to God through pain and suffering? I’m sure you have.
Here are a couple of quotes from C.S. Lewis for you to think on this week:
C.S. Lewis: “Sometimes you only look up, when you’re on your back.”
C.S. Lewis: “Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a morally deaf world.”