“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22
Can that really be true? Jesus said it. So it must be, right? He said He was the Way and the Truth. So why is it that so often our prayers go unanswered, or so it seems? Is it because we don’t have enough faith that the people we love die anyway, or cancer spreads, or divorce happens or jobs are lost? Did we not pray enough to stop a child from making wrong choices and going down wrong paths? Does God have a sort of faith Richter scale to measure the intensity of each prayer before He decides to respond? Does He shake His head and say, “Oh, that one is only a 2.5 on the scale, not worth my time” ?
I don’t think so. I don’t buy into the fact that people get ill or die as a punishment for someone not having enough faith. True, many of our illnesses stem from poor choices in how we eat, how little we exercise and how much we stress. A great deal we bring on ourselves. But we also live in a broken, imperfect and finite world. Disease, negativity, selfishness, fleshly desires and self-survival-above-all-else defines the world in which we live, the world Christ died to save.
Faith breaks through that world and allows miracles to enter into it. People can be healed, in spirit if not in body. Test results can be reversed, tumors disappear. But more than that, the hurting can be comforted. Hearts mended. Lives restored. It is just that often times, the miracles are hidden in the pain or disappointment when the answer is not what we expected or desired. When God doesn’t act like a Holy Santa Claus, dig into his bag of goodies and give us what we thought we wanted, we become despondent and say He doesn’t care or is all a fantasy. What faith we have dissolves, like a teaspoon of sugar in a gallon of water.
Faith expressed through prayer puts the situation in God’s control. It changes the “I want” to the “Thy will be done”. Faith not only breaks through this imperfect world, it rises above it. It stops asking, “Why did You let this happen”, and asks, “Lord, let me see Your purpose in what is happening because I trust it is for the best.” It becomes, “How can I , through this situation, glorify You?” rather than “Why won’t You give me what I want.”
If we ask in faith, what we ask is for God to handle it, knowing whatever the outcome is, it is – a) for the best, b) according to God’s plan, and c) assurance that He is right there beside us during it all. When our prayers are, “God, take this over, bless it and give me the peaceful wisdom to see You at work in it” then they are prayers of faith. Then we are open to receive His mercy, His comfort and His blessings.For more on thoughts on prayer, please consider my book P.R.A.Y.I.N.G. Thanks.