All of us are different but yet the same. We are different in terms of the various struggles that we face each day; we are the same in terms of our need for faith, hope and love. To realize a personal healing we need all three, where each plays a significant role in our receiving from God. We need hope; hope for a miracle, hope for Gods intervention, hope for our future, especially if terminally ill. We need faith; viable, durable, and spirited, recognizable by God as He looks upon our heart. We are in need of the Fathers love, in Christ, who is the face of the Father, remembering many of the Jews who were healed all had this in common, each had a face-to-face with Jesus; of course we cannot have this physical contact with Him, but ours is spiritual. Therefore if our contact with the Lord is spiritual then our access to Him will have several facets that are analogous with what is physical; seeking, asking and knocking, each is an spiritual activity that we engage with Holy Spirit.
We need to understand is that a lot of folks praying does not necessarily mean there is faith. Several times I have seen those who are sick, and even in some cases dying, where a crowd of well-meaning Christians track through their life; setting up prayer chains, laying their hands on the sick, quoting a lot of scriptures, or giving “spiritual” advice with little to no results, however, I have also seen it help. Sometimes, well-meaning Christians can be those who are only clouding and confusing the issues for those who are ill, exacerbating the situation when what you really need is the Lords quiet personal communion with you directly, that you might have His perspective and direction in the midst of all the confusion. What I’m saying here is that in the midst of all the distraction of the crowds, and the subsequent confusion that follows, we need to know the Healer personally, Jesus.
In my opinion, when it comes to prayer, there is a lot of ignorance and immaturity in the Church in our approach to our heavenly Father that causes frustration and doubt. Answered prayer is predicated upon faith; faiths focus is upon Jesus words and subsequently nourished by them. Prayer remains unanswered because we do things contrary to what Jesus taught, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight”
What is important is that Jesus taught us what the Father gave Him to teach, what is according to His will regarding our communication and approach to Him. This being the case, we are in need of the Holy Spirits input and direction; His assistance in our remembrance of Jesus words, assistance in the interpretation and personal application of those words, that we might approach the Father as He has instructed. If our prayers are lifeless so is the result. In Christ, our faith is made alive and when it is alive it is strong and when strengthened it reaches heaven. Its not that we don’t have faith but are in need to possess a strengthened one, and that is only known as we have a face to face encounter with our Lord and His love. Therefore my intent here is that in all cases those who had hope and faith came to Jesus, and in His presence were edified, quickened, responding to His infinite love, that is, the love of the Father in Him, and via their quickened faith they were healed. We come to Jesus with what we have in us and wait upon Him to raise it up.
In the Gospels we see all the crowds pressing in upon Jesus, some seeking Him personally, some following Him out of curiosity, however, behind the scenes I believe the Holy Spirit was working, working in the hearts of desperate souls, those whose hope was aflame for a miracle, thus the Spirit helping them with faith and their faith brought them to Jesus. We see coming to Jesus in each case had been personal where each received personal attention from Him. Some were told to sin no more, others were told, let it be according to your faith, and others simply sought Him until they touch His cloak. The point here is healing is personal and each of us needs to approach Jesus for our personal need where His direction could be different for each of us however what ever His direction it is one of love for us.
The nature of love is always one, however different the objects. Christ knows of no other law of love but that with which His Father loved Him. Our wretchedness only serves to call out more distinctly the beauty of love, such as could not be seen even in heaven. With the tenderest compassion He bows to our weakness, with patience inconceivable He bears with our slowness, with the gentlest loving-kindness He meets our fears and our follies. It is the love of the Father to the Son, beautified, glorified, in its condescension, in its exquisite adaptation to our needs. Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ.
We are not alone in our daily struggles, nor are we alone when ill or sick; we have the help and assistance of the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. Recognizing that it is the Spirit who is the administrator of the Fathers things, and specifically, He assists in our maintaining a level of faith, the just will live by faith, or if our faith is weak, He assists in nursing it back to health that it might be strong in us. Because faith is “organic” it is resilient and resistant to years of drought and winter seasons, i.e., neglect. Think of a plant you stopped taking care of, visually it appears to be dead, however, if you place it in sunlight and begin to water it, many times it will begin to grow because at its root there is still life.
Many are they whose faith has weakened to the point that they shy away from Gods help, consequently missing any opportunity for His intervention. However, it’s been my experience that no matter how weak ones faith might seem, if it is healthy enough to turn its attention and focus upon the Holy Spirit, through His help, we can get back on our spiritual feet again. Henry Scougal, the Life of God in the Soul of Man, explains that the fires of the Holy Spirit had always been burning in Jesus, unlike our struggles to maintain these fires, that our faith, toward God and communion with Him, might remain active and alive,
“His whole life was a kind of prayer; a constant course of communion with God: if the sacrifice was not always offering, yet was the fire still kept alive; nor was ever the blessed Jesus surprised with that dullness, or tepidity of spirit, which we must many times wrestle with before we can be fit for the exercise of devotion.”
Those who are weak in faith might be tempted to say that they do not have any faith, but all Christians have faith, its not faith that we need, but it is the nourishment of the faith we already possess that is required; like the plant in the previous paragraph. If we look at scriptures what we will find is that all of us already have faith, so why would you pursue something you already possess; if you do not have faith you would not be saved. Faith is a product of the coming of the Holy Spirit into our spirits. In other words, we initially hear the gospel, believing what we hear; that God raised Jesus from the dead, confessing with our mouth that He is Lord, we will be saved; therefore, faith resides in us, through the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Hopefully, when faced with a serious illness, we already have a level of faith that can turn to God for healing, if not, we are in trouble; serious illness inherently causes one to turn to God for help; we come to Him feeling vulnerable, helpless, weak, recognizing our deep need for His help in our time of need. Unfortunately, many times it takes a crisis for us to re-focus our attention and renew our awareness of our need for and dependency upon God, not only for healing, but for daily living.
Faith is a God given gift that is maintained in our spirit; however, for faith to remain strong it will need our daily attention. If someone gives us a plant it is our responsibility to maintain it, and attend to its health. As mentioned faith is resident in our spirit, its seat is our heart, it has stature in us, is resistant to doubt, and any overt reasoning’s of the mind that attempts to usurp the knowledge of the will of God. Faith is our shield against all kinds of evils that might mount up against it, however, in the wake of these evils remains steadfast toward Christ.
Know that a “faith” that resides only in one’s mind (which is not faith) is but sifting sand below our feet, why, because the mind is always changing and vulnerable, however faith does not change, it is living, whose sustenance is from heaven; in the same manner that Jesus is the bread of life who sustains and gives definition to our spiritual life.
One can be tempted to believe that because they possess a lot of scriptures, read many Christian how-to books, attended all the popular bible conferences, or possess many superficial interpretations of scriptures that they have great faith, but this is a misnomer. Faith is not the sum total of scriptures we have memorized or can recall, nor is it an accumulation of higher learning; personal theology, doctrine or presuppositions. If faith were maintained in one’s mind then much reasoning, logic, and conjecture could apprehend our healing. However, mingled in with all our abstract thinking, reasonings, or professed intelligence is also doubt, a level of skepticism, and uncertainty, and when the next popular idea comes along can change our minds again.
Nor is faith measured by how one feels. A lot of external stimulus created by Church music, singing, or emotional preaching is not faith, for when the music is over where is faith. However faith is a product of heaven, and finds its nourishment in heavenly things; hearing and receiving living, eternal, spiritual words, possessing “spiritual” understanding and wisdom, as administered by the Holy Spirit in accordance with what Jesus said “…the words that I speak are Spirit and Life.” If our faith is going to survive and grow we are in need of Spirit and Life.
Faith is Not Positive Thinking
Let me say here that there are many scenarios in the scriptures, of those seeking healing, that they were very determined in their seeking an audience with Jesus. Let’s not miss-interpret their determination as positive thinking, or the pulling oneself up by your proverbial boot straps, or is it, as some might suggest, a self-determined attitude that says, “I’m going to beat this thing”. No, faith has nothing to do with positive attitudes, thinking, or any kind of self-actualization (maximize potential and possibilities) techniques that have wiggled their way into our Gospel. I don’t believe that anything rooted in self, coming from self, has anything to do with faith, but is simply human effort mimicking faith.
Remember who those determined souls were seeking an audience with; Jesus was not some external force, nor was He responding to someone’s frame of mind that somehow has a positive effect upon their physical health. However, we must realize that Jesus sees the heart, looking for faith, we can’t fool Him, and He is not impressed by human effort, rather I believe, He shuns it. What I believe He is looking for has its source in Him, If there is to be any kind of God given help in us, we are never the source; the source is always Jesus and not human potential. We need to know the difference between what is Spirit and what is flesh or self, don’t be fooled by all the entrapments of flesh, emotion, and self. Like I said, God is looking for what has originated in Him, through the Spirit, and is subject to the word.
Prayer of Faith
Understand, “…the prayer of a righteous man avails much…” In other words, the prayer of the righteous has more benefit and gain for us than one thousand people, with little to no faith praying. In the midst of a thousand voices I believe God seeks out that single voice that proceeds from a heart of the one who has consistently given themselves to living righteous before Him, and whose heart has been shaped and formed by His graces. For it is heavens riches, stirring in the spirit of men that conditions the heart and elevates human behavior.
The Apostle James explains in his letter, “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up…” The word that needs our attention is “faith”, whether it is the faith of the elders, as mentioned in James letter, or your faith; no matter whose faith it is, the outcome is the same, that the prayer of faith would raise us up.
Within the body of Christ there are elders we can call upon for prayer, or we can seek out those who have a healing gift to pray for us, however, what is disconcerting is though you call the elders, or seek the gifted, you can still come up short. Today, we see a lot of charlatans claiming they are gifted, but are not.
In scriptures, we read of various means to prayer and different manners in which one should pray. There are times when one means or manner does not fit within the bounds or frame of your particular circumstance; prayer is never a one size fits all dynamic.
Jesus explained different methods of praying. Asked by the disciples to teach them to pray He gave them a structured prayer, i.e., the Lord’s Prayer. Elsewhere, Jesus explained that your approach to God in prayer is like a bread shop owner; after the shop was closed and the owner had retired for the night, a determined customer continued to knock at the door of his shop and because the customer had been so persistent, the owner begrudgingly got out of bed and sold him the bread he needed. In another place in scripture Jesus tells His disciples that they can ask anything, no matter how ludicrous it might seem, like telling a mountain to be cast into the sea. In addition, later on in the Gospel of John we here Jesus explaining that if one abides in Him, and His words abide in them, they can ask what they will and it will be given to them, that their joy might be made complete.
In our praying to God there will be times when the Lord’s Prayer is not appropriate for our circumstance or in terms of what we are requesting. Also, the persistent and determined approach (like the bread customer) might be inappropriate, however, God could be calling us to a higher level of maturity and intimacy, i.e., one of abiding in Christ, and in our abiding we receive. In addition, most of the time it is not appropriate for us to ask God to remove a mountain and cast it into the sea, and if that is what our God is telling us then the level and dynamic of our seeking Him will be commensurate with that request.
Prayer is personal because God is personal and relational
There are many other examples of methods and means to prayer that Jesus explained, however there is another aspect of prayer we need to be aware of and that it is not a perfunctory or mechanical exercise, having no personality, or is it a thoughtless non-emotional activity. Prayer is relational and personal and we should strive to be interpersonal, interactive, and collaborative with our God, in accordance with Jesus teachings, knowing we have the grave privilege in that Jesus gave us His name that we might commune with our heavenly Father. We need to remember just who it is we are approaching, the faith, or lack of it that we bring, and also, knowing that God is holy, what is on our conscience, and finally, how we are choosing to communicate with Him.
God as we know is not a machine where we put in the right amount of change and the product is dispensed. I believe this notion or approach is offensive to God and He will resist all who attempt to approach in this manner. To receive from God, I believe, it is highly personal, intimate, communicative, and sometimes difficult; difficult because relationships are at times difficult and demanding.
If we are haphazard and listless in communicating our prayers and impatient listening to Him, why should God overlook our lack of enthusiasm and poor communication or listening skills? Have you ever talked with someone and they are not listening to you, it is most obvious, and how does that make you feel. Yes, sometimes God overlooks our immaturity, but many times, when we should be more mature, I believe He simply doesn’t listen and will wait until our approach is more mature and sincere.
Many will teach that you can pick up your bible, read a scripture about healing, believe it, and this scripture becomes your personal word from God. However, as we set out to believe this scripture we encounter all kinds of resistance. We cannot divorce God from His word; it is more personal than that. Some will go as far as watch a TV personality who tells them to send money and God will heal you. Well, I wish it was that easy.
Our prayer life needs to be personal, because healing is very personal; your body is sick, you’re hurting, weak, fearful, insecure, vulnerable and emotional, all those things that humans don’t like to be. In our prayer we need to have a personal encounter with the Lord, knowing that the third spoke in the wheel, faith, hope and love, is love, i.e., in His presence we can know His Agape, the predominant characteristics of God that heaven is filled with.
How many know that when you personally have had an encounter with the Lord what has been your experience. Isn’t it one of tears, warming of your heart by His love, a heightened appreciation for Him, conviction and a quickening of your faith, for we are touching, in our inner man, through the Holy Spirit, His life?
Peter, while fishing all day with others, had not been catching any fish, but when the Lord came up to the shore and called out to them instructions to throw their nets to the other side of the boat met with arguments from those seasoned weathered fisherman; His request seemed ridiculous, and the idea that there were fish on the other side of the boat had been almost laughable. However, for some reason, I believe had to do with the authority Jesus always walked in, they put the net on the other side of the boat, and to all their amazement they caught more fish than they had ever experienced. After that experience what was Peter’s response in coming up to Jesus, wasn’t it his saying to the Lord, depart from me for I’m a sinful man? Why would he say that, what had catching all those fish to do with his sinfulness? Wouldn’t have Peter said something different, more appropriate and in line with who Jesus is and how did He know where the fish were? What I’m saying here is simply that when we have a personal encounter with the Lord it is like nothing we have ever experienced, and has a lot to do with His glory and holiness, where in His presence, all kinds of stuff is stirred up in us, including a consciousness of our sinfulness.
Faith in Motion
Now that we have a viable faith, are praying, and have heard from God, we need to walk in a manner that we might receive. The scripture does not have many definition of faith; however what you see is its demonstration in men or women, patriarchs of the faith, who having faith working in them, walked it out, and in doing so, demonstrated to God that they believed Him. What had been working in both Old and New Testament patriarchs, equipped them to walk, and face all obstacles, no matter how long it took.
As we walk to receive, there will be many deterrents we will contend with, external and internal; internal ones range from our own evil heart of unbelief, flesh, self (logic, reasoning, emotion, and imaginations, obsessions), and of course the devil; all will clamor for our attention as we attempt to exercise and maintain our faith in a posture toward our God.
External adversaries are simply the reality of our sickness, doctors, hospitals, medicine, friends and family. I say external adversaries because these can be a contributing source for doubt and fear in our life, where our heavenly focus and attention are diverted by them.
Most of us understand that our faith might be tried, and it is in many different manners and ways. When we embrace hope, and the belief that God can heal us and begin to exercise faith, know that your faith will most likely be tested.
Temptation is a different animal altogether. Once we have faith, there are many voices in and about us that compete for our attention and these are those that tempt us to move out from under the cover of faith and seek to move us under their control. Temptation, with its many voices, urgings, and feelings, and even darts thrown from the pit of hell into our spirit, all are designed to move us, away from our faith. If these temptations are not perceived, and dealt with right away, can and will become ours, in other words they can become a controlling force in our life that will take much spiritual effort to rid them from their internal influences upon our behavior, attitudes, demeanor, mental health, and most importantly, they challenge all that God would do in our lives.
For example, in the mist of our sickness, if a serious sickness, the devil comes along and says you’re going to die and if you don’t resist it but begin to entertain it, or obsess over it, allowing it to have free reign, thus entering the heart, now you own it; and as I said, it will take a lot of prayer and spiritual effort to get rid of it. However, our protection and freedom from these things is a strong and healthy faith that keeps one in the “rest” and kingdom peace of God, no matter the circumstance.
Final thought – Jesus is our example
We need to understand that the prayer of faith is supernatural and if we are to overcome all the unbelief and negative thoughts and feelings in us we need those things that come from above in order to nourish and maintain our God given faith. It is faith, a strengthen faith, that maintains our position to receive from the Lord. As Jesus was dependent upon the Father we are dependent upon Him for all those spiritual blessings the Father has placed in Him, when He raised Him up. Not only has the Father raised Jesus up He also raised us up with Him, and in Him, we have every spiritual blessings available to us in that we abide in Christ to receive them. It the faith that was birthed by the Spirit, that the Lord recognizes. We have no power to maintain faith when confronted with all those inner things that are contrary with and battle against our receiving healing. In all that Jesus did He was completely dependent upon His Father. If we are going to walk in the faith that receives healing from the Lord, in like manner as Jesus had been dependent upon His Father, we are in need to be dependent upon Him.
Many times we see Jesus demonstrating His total dependency upon His Father as the source for all He did especially was He dependent upon the Father when faced with all the inordinate demands of crowds, religious leaders challenging Him, and in particular, one day, did He demonstrate His Fathers heart perfectly to a woman who committed adultery. In the temple that day God demonstrated His wisdom, holiness, grace, mercy and the purity of His love through His Son.
Jesus walked into the temple and sat down to preach, many crowded in around Him. While sharing with the crowd, several scribes and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery and set her in the center of the court, asking to speak with Jesus; it had been their intent to test Him to see if He would observe the commands of the Law of Moses regarding its judgment against adultery. Upon hearing their accusatory claims, Jesus knelt down and began to draw in the sand. After a short time, He rose up and said “he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Pierced and convicted by His words, each accuser left the temple without speaking. Jesus turned to the women and asked her, “where are your accusers?” she answered, there are none Lord, Jesus said “neither do I accuse you, go and sin no more”
In the temple that mourning, both the scribes and Pharisees attempted to solicit from Jesus a judgment against the adulterous women, a judgment in accordance with the Mosaic Law; according to the law the women was to be stoned outside of the city. However, Jesus responded in a manner that no one could have anticipated, and certainly, unlike anything anyone had seen in their religious leaders, He knelt down and began writing with his finger in the sand. Jesus took a quiet instant in the sand, looking to His Father, drawing close to His heart, and judgment, regarding the immediate situation. Jesus could have acted on His own; after all, He is the Son of God and had been with the eternal Father from the beginning,
“…Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
Jesus passion had been for His Fathers approbation, seeking after those things commensurate with His Fathers heart, mind, and will. In a deferential posture, Jesus quietly and patently writes in the sand listening, in anticipating, with faith and confidence, listening for His Fathers voice, waiting until the Fathers words pressed in upon His spirit, perspicacious words, powerful, full of grace and wisdom, with Gods ensuing grace recognizing that these words proceeded from the Father, for He knew them by their nature and impact upon His spirit.
We must understand that Jesus work and ministry had been a fruit of His innermost intimate relationship with His Father; i.e., in union with Him; as Jesus would later explain to His disciples, asking them …do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?
Jesus, after knowing His Fathers heart in the matter, stood up and spoke with the authority of His Fathers words, releasing the powers of the Fathers kingdom upon all souls present in the temple that morning.
Jesus words, full of Spirit and Life, whose source is the eternal Father; working on behalf of Jesus. At a moment in time, the glory of the heavens permeated the temple once again. Gods’ glory had not been in the temple for several hundred years, then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, however, that morning; again, Gods glory was revealed in a new and living way, through the Son. Now we see Jesus, in union with His Father, the Father in Him, and Him in the Father, who being the brightness of His (Gods) glory and the express image of His person. Jesus spoke His Fathers powerful, creative words, full of glory, words, full of authority, grace, and mercy; grace toward the women, and authority of conviction of conscience toward her sanctimonious accusers.
“…And of His fullness we have all received…no one has spoken like this man…”
Finally, we need to recognize that faith is the substance of heaven, and not normally found in men apart from God who speaks His living words, either in a burning bush, atop a mountain, in the mouth of a prophet, or in His beloved Son, to men. Faith is the commerce of heaven and has trading power before the throne of God, faith is the evidence of things not seen, possesses a single eye that cannot be easily distracted, or turned aside, but always has a heavenly focus, a focus upon Him who is its author and finisher.