You often hear people ask, “Why aren’t the extraordinary things we read about in the Bible— the miracles, healings, etc, not happening today?”
Firstly, I believe the question is fallacious because these things are indeed happening (you probably just need to get out more).
But really, what we should be asking is, “Where are the type of people we read about in the Bible, who believed God in unrelenting faith for the miraculous and impossible?”
See, we’ve been trying to put the blame off on God for why these things don’t happen as much but the truth is, God doesn’t change. People, on the other hand, are a whole other story.
The Lies We’ve Embraced
I’ve found that for the most part, the Church has allowed herself to be robbed of the miraculous and answered prayers as a result of buying into two big lies.
We have substituted devotion for faith. Over time, we have equated these things as the same. You get people all the time saying things like, “Uncle so and so was a minister for 50 years and he loved the Lord more than anyone. Yet he died of cancer, and never saw his prayers answered. If anyone had faith, it was him!”
Think about that statement. Notice how the assumption was made that if you have devotion, you have faith.
Devotion and faith are not the same—hence the reason one is called faith, and the other devotion. As a result of accepting this falsehood, we have made God out to be a liar and impugned His character. How? Because He promised (it’s amazing how lightly we take that word now a days) that all things would be possible for the person who believes. Yet, we have people all over who are not seeing the impossible in their lives, though they are ministers. Though they are committed. Though they love the Lord.
No, faith for answered prayers is not the same as love or devotion for the Lord.
We took all the verses where Jesus spoke about the necessity of having faith in order to get answers to prayer, and we said He was referring to faith in God. So folks go around saying, “I have faith! I believe in God, I believe in Jesus.”
But . . .
When Jesus spoke about the object of faith which gets prayers answered, He did not say it was faith in God.
Shocked? I was too. Let’s take a look at a few instances in the Bible.
Mark 11:23, for instance, He does not say, “If you pray and tell God how much you believe in Him, the mountain will get up and fall into the sea.” What did He say? “Whosoever shall say unto this mountain be removed and be cast into the sea and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe (believe what? In God? No. Then believe what? What should he believe?) that those things which he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.”
Again, Mark 11:24, “Therefore, whatever things you desire when you pray, believe (in God? Nope) that you receive them and you shall have them.”
What did the woman with the issue of blood believe? Just in God? No. The Bible tells us what she believed. “If I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be made whole.” She did not say, “If I just believe in God, and trust that He is sovereign, I shall be made whole.”
Right before Jesus healed the blind men, what did He ask them?
“Do you believe in God?”
Nope. He never asked that.
“Do you believe I am the Christ?”
Wasn’t ever brought up.
“Do you believe that I’m sovereign and that one day, after you die, I will take you to heaven and open your eyes?”
He didn’t ask them any of those.
What did He ask? “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt 9:28).
Again and again we see that the object of the faith was connected to the desired outcome of the prayer. Not to some generic belief in God’s sovereignty, His existence, or Jesus as the Christ.
Lies Don’t Comfort
Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are things that we all wish were not the way they were. I wish that all God required of us in the area of prayer was to just believe in Him. To just believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for us and rose again. But the fact is, He requires more than that. And I get that we feel compelled to comfort the afflicted in times of tragedy and crisis by any means possible. But lying to them isn’t the way to do it. Telling them the truth is. Giving them hope by sharing with them God’s Word is.
Of all people, Christians should be the ones to understand this the most. Lies do not comfort. It’s the truth that sets us free.
Instead of hiding the truth about prayer, we should be heralding it. This is Good News! It means we serve a real God who can and is still doing what we read about in the Bible.