“Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.”
Ephesians 3:17 TPT
The Passion Translation of our verse today picks up the theme of faith, which we looked at in yesterday’s blog post. We build up our faith muscles “by constantly using [our] faith“. Day by day, as we continue through life, we encounter situations that need the grace and love of God. And through faith we reach out to our loving Heavenly Father through prayer. For His answers, for His remedies, for the “supernatural strength” and “explosive power” that we read about in Ephesians 3:16. Through prayer we enter into God’s presence and bring before Him the needs and situations before us. So we pray for guidance when making a difficult decision. We pray for a sick friend or relative, for healing. We pray for all sorts of things. So we, in faith, leave the situation with our Heavenly Father, who knows what is best. And “by constantly using [our] faith” we will become more and more in tune with our Father in Heaven, and able to look at the situation before us through His eyes. There are times when the situation before us is beyond what we have faith for. We pray anyway, and also pray for the gift of faith, so that the outcome is as God wants it to be. Jesus reminded us of the importance of faith in the outcome to our prayers. He said in Matthew 9:29, “Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you’”. (Emphasis mine).
There is a discipline that us pilgrims would be well advised to follow. That is to keep a journal of our prayers. A notebook where we can write down our prayers of faith. And then keep them updated with God’s answers to our prayers. When we realise empirically that God answers prayers it is very faith building. I look back over my life and see many occasions where God has answered my prayers of faith. The answers might not have been what I had hoped, but answered they were. The Godless cynic might have put down my experiences to coincidence. But there have been too many “coincidences” for me to accept that. Instead I call them “God-incidences”, because they are so real to me. To me, they are obviously answers to my prayers from my loving Heavenly Father. And I am so grateful to Him for His care and interest in me and my prayers.
One of the most misunderstood topics of prayer is the prayer for sick people. In my personal experience this is a place where ordinary pilgrims like me fear to tread. A complex area where we find answers to prayer often don’t deliver what we would perhaps expect, or hope for. We scrutinise the Scriptures and particularly the Gospels where Jesus healed so many sick people, to see if there is a formula or methodology we could adopt. But there isn’t of course. God is never bound by human thinking. There are many complex issues involved. For example, some people don’t want to be healed – Jesus asked the disabled man at the Pool of Bethesda just that question. We read in John 5:6, “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”. Another situation might have involved sin. In Matthew 9:2 perhaps Jesus discerned that the more important issue was forgiveness for the man’s sins. “Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”. Note that in this case the man’s friends had faith that Jesus could resolve their friend’s problem. But regardless of what the issues are, we still pray for the sick. There are two verses in James 5 that are often quoted, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.“. Another key verse is from Isaiah 53, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”. Jesus took on our infirmities, sicknesses and sins so that we are healed, body, soul and spirit.
One last thought about praying for healing – we are blessed by an incredible Health Service here in the UK. Many complain about it but behind the scenes dedicated men and women are compassionately using their skills – personal, medical and technical – to dispense God’s healing power. And we have faith in their abilities, and thank God for them.
Let us never give up praying. And praying with all the faith we have, to a loving Heavenly Father who cares for us. One last Scripture about faith, from that great faith chapter in Hebrews. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.“. God loves it when we pray in faith. I want to please Him, don’t you?