Two Big Lies You Never Knew You Believed About Prayer

shocked

 

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, 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

 

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.

Lie #1:

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.

Lie #2:

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.”

False.

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?

Negative.

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.

 

Why a, “Compromised” Gospel is Necessary

 

 

Christians are touting that the greatest compromise of the Church today is a spineless, watered down Gospel. Instead of telling people about the dangers of sin and impending judgement, we talk about how to achieve success and happiness with the help of God. Instead of calling on the sinner to repent, we simply say, “Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life.”

There’s no lack of critics for ministers like Joel Osteen or, “seeker sensitive” churches that, “fail” to present the Word of God in it’s entirety. The great outcry has been for a return to a preaching as seen in the New Testament demonstrated by Jesus and the apostles.

Yet when we raise the question about another missing aspect in modern evangelism, the silence is deafening:

What about the signs and wonders?

The Church, by in large, has not earned the right to preach fire and brimstone like we see preached in the Bible. Why? Because we are not backing it up with the miraculous like we see in the Bible. We go on and on about how necessary it is that we stay biblically accurate in our preaching yet we ignore that the biblical presentation nearly always had signs following the message.signs

Think about it. Miracles and healings are what set the stage for the Gospel to be preached. It gave Christians a platform. It set them apart from other religions that only had words. This is what’s missing in our modern attempts to preach the same message they did. We have not shown ourselves to be an authority on the issue. We want people to listen but we don’t give them any reason to.

“Well, the Gospel itself is the power of God. We have the Holy Spirit as our authority.”

Cop-out. The early church had both the Holy Spirit and the Gospel too yet it didn’t stop there. Are we saying that we don’t need something that was so central in the ministry of Jesus and His apostles?

 

Drawing Attention to Ourselves

 

People want to criticize me for talking like this because they say we shouldn’t be focusing on signs. I’m not focusing on signs. I’m focusing on preaching the Gospel in the manner the Bible says it should be preached.

“Healings and miracles will only draw attention to yourself.”Philip

Yes! That is EXACTLY what needs to happen.

F.F. Bosworth used to say that healing is the dinner bell. The sinner is no different today than he was 2000 years ago. He will be drawn to the extraordinary and consider the Message like never before when it is confirmed. Christians are the sign post that points to Christ. But people only pay attention to sign posts that are backed by authority.

 

Does the Bible Really Say It?

 

Some argue that the bottom line is we are commanded to preach the Gospel in it’s entirety and we have failed to do so.

I know this may throw a huge theological monkey wrench into our previously tidy doctrine but . . . Where does the Bible even tell the average Christian to preach the Gospel?

“In the Great Commission! Right before Jesus left He told us to go into all the world and preach it.

No, He told His apostles that. If we want to take what He told them and apply it to us, I’m all for it—as long as we are consistent.

Matthew 10:5-8
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying . . . go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”

See, if you want to run with the big boys and wear the big boy pants, you better have the underwear.

Otherwise, maybe we should stop criticizing Christians for spreading the message about Jesus in their own way.  The, “watered down” and, “compromised” Gospel is often just an unconscious recognition that we’re missing something. I don’t think most of us are even able to pinpoint what it is,  but we notice it’s missing and we’re trying to compensate for it.

Then there are those who ignore this aspect of the Bible, go out anyway and try to preach like the apostles—And fall flat on their faces. They can’t grab the attention of the sinner like the men of God in the Bible did and instead end up crosssounding like raving lunatics that people avoid. Then they blame the unbeliever and say, “these people have closed their ears and hardened their hearts just like they did in Jesus’ time  . . .” Here’s another thought– maybe they haven’t closed their ears or hardened their hearts. Maybe they’re just tired of hearing a bunch of talk and are wondering what sets our message apart from any other religion.

 

Be Ready to Give an Answer, Not Necessarily a Sermon

 

Does that mean we are not supposed to tell people about Jesus? Of course not. Christians are exhorted to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in them. That is a broad statement though. It does not say, “be ready to tell people about how sinful they are, the wrath of God, and genuine repentance.” Don’t get me wrong, that may be the answer some Christians have to the question (although it seems a bit forced), but it is definitely not a command to lay it out that way. We are demanding things of one another that God does not demand.

There is definitely a place and time that the sinner should know the whole truth, but since the Scriptures do not specifically tell us WHEN or WHERE then we all individually must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in this area.

As for the fire and brimstone preaching, I believe it is needed. But it must be presented in a manner of power and authority as we see in the Scriptures otherwise people will just tune you out. Unfortunately, the spiritual nursery is running at full capacity in this area and no one wants to give up their bottle.

So until we are willing to look in the mirror and admit we have already compromised the biblical presentation of the Gospel, then we’ll just have to make due with a watered down one.