Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Praying With Faith

     One of the most important, crucial components of a believer's relationship with the LORD is prayer. Prayer, however, is the subject of so much criticism and frustration. Countless Christians (and non-believers) challenge the power of prayer when they don't feel like their prayer was answered or that they received what they asked for. Many will question the faithfulness of God. After all, Jesus did say that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it (John 14:14).
     So why, then, do we feel like our prayers are not answered? That our prayers do not have power? I just finished studying the book of James and one concept I learned from it is the ridding of doubt from prayer. Doubt is one of the biggest obstacles to effective prayer. James states in his letter:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord." - JAMES 1:5-7
     When we approach God with our requests, we have to believe that He can fulfill them. Sometimes, we ask but do not receive because we do not trust or believe that we will receive. God deserves better than that! We have to have faith in Him. If we ask from God with doubts in our hearts, we insult His majesty and sovereignty. Before God can fulfill our requests, we have to show Him that we are truly following Him and willing to rely on Him for everything. We not only have to give him our requests, we have to trust him with our requests. Trust requires faith. Prayer needs to be our first response to tribulation, rather than our last resort. James reaffirms the power of a faithful prayer later on in his letter:
"The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up..... the effective prayer of a righteous person has great power." - JAMES 5:15,16b
     When we pray with faith, miracles can happen. We have to have faith in God. And in addition to that, we have to have faith in ourselves. We are, after all, empowered by Christ and the Holy Spirit to do all things through Him. Christ tells us this in the Gospel according to Luke:
"Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you." - LUKE 10:19
     The power of Christ is within us! We have the power and the authority to do all things through Him! This is very important to remember. It's said all the time: you cannot love anyone until you can love yourself. I have found this to be very true. And it is perhaps most true with our relationship with God. Part of the reason we have trouble believing in what God can do through us is that we have lost confidence in ourselves. We not only have to believe in God, but also ourselves because we are the vessel by which Christ lives and works on this Earth. In John, Christ reiterates the power we have when we have faith in Him:
"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." - JOHN 14:12
     We know that Christ did miraculous things on Earth. But are we ready to believe that we could do those same things through faith in Him? Do we believe that we can do greater things through Him? I know I am guilty of doubting the strength that I have through Christ Jesus. Christ says that the signs that accompany those who believe Him are the ability to heal the sick, cast out demons, and speak in tongues (Mark 16:17-18). Christ has so much faith in us. It's time that we buckle down and believe in ourselves, and the power of Christ within us.
     We quote all the time that we can do anything through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), but do we really believe it? Are we moving mountains with our faith or being tossed by the ocean of our doubt? Do not be afraid of anything, brothers and sisters. Do not think twice. God is with you and will strengthen you. With Christ in you and the Father above you and the Spirit around you nothing can stop you. You can heal the sick. You can cast out Satan.
     You can do anything through Christ. And Christ can and will do anything for you. He loves you more than you know.