Three sermons converged this week to give me a greater sense of what God is doing in us every day. Pastor Jimmy Carroll at my home church is in the Miracles of Jesus series. Pastor James MacDonald at Harvest Bible Chapel is working through Prayer Breakthroughs sermon series. Pastor Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church is asking the question in his series “Who Needs God.” All of these messages seemed to come together this week because I need a miracle.
I have had a few occasions when I have seen God work a miracle in my circumstance, but it’s been a long time since I have recognized His work. After listening to my Pastor on Sunday, I had the opportunity to pray for someone who needed a miracle for his son. I was able to encourage him with a few points from the sermon and offer a prayer for healing. One of Pastor Jimmy’s points from his sermon was that “it’s always in God’s power to heal but not always in God’s purpose to heal.” Sometimes there is a work that needs to be done in us before the healing takes place. However, healing may not be in God’s plan – at least on earth, healing will take place in heaven regardless of what happens here on earth. When we are in His presence, we will be whole. Praise the Lord!
Pastor James made the point that a breakthrough prayer needs persistence. I have heard over the years that we are to persist in prayer until we have an answer from God. In the Greatest Salesman in the World, the author Og Mandino wrote we are to persist until we succeed. Sometimes we fail to see an answer so we quit before the breakthrough. Pastor James had a point as well to share on persistence. “People who persist in prayer don’t lose heart – people who lose heart don’t persist in prayer.” Sometimes the delay in an answer is to fix the Pray-er; the Pray-er needs a breakthrough before we see the answer. Another point Pastor James made was this: “As I pray, God is making me spiritually fit to receive what He is already willing to do.”
Pastor Andy tells us that sometimes our views of God don’t mature as we age. We may have grown up knowing about God, but as we get older that view doesn’t change. When we face adult problems, our childhood image doesn’t fit our adult problem. Many walk away from the faith because the expectations were not met. We have that image of a “genie” god who will grant our wishes. When God doesn’t come through, we get disillusioned and walk away. God’s business is maturing disciples. He is into building our faith muscles. It’s okay to start out with little faith; but at some point, it has to mature. We have to grow up spiritually just as we grow up physically.
Luke 18 gives an account of one of Jesus’ stories about the persistent widow. Pastor James points out that the scenario is a worst case problem – a widow, a jerk for a judge and a plea for justice. It’s through persistence that the widow gets the judgment; not because of the righteousness of the judge, but because of her persistence. She kept going to the judge most likely with more passion each time she returned. The judge decided to grant her the request. He realized she would not give up – she wasn’t going to wear out, he was.
God is looking for faithfulness, but He is also looking for emotion. When we are moved, He is moved. It’s our heart that needs the breakthrough. Praying is the vehicle to get us there. Pastor James last point concerned the question Jesus asked at the end of the parable: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” We are seeking something from Him; He is seeking something from us.
Persist until faith becomes sight. As I learn these lessons, I have opportunities to pray for someone else. I get the opportunity to see the miracle to happen for someone else. I think that’s what it’s all about. When we pray for others, we get the miracle too. And we learn a greater lesson about God; He is bigger than we can imagine, and He gives us a glimpse of Himself in the answer.
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. Matthew 8:10, 13