Miracles have been on my mind.
It’s the natural outcome of spending time in the Gospels. Jesus literally changed the lives of the people He met – time and time again, He healed broken bodies and spirits. He multiplied food to meet needs. He calmed storms and walked on water. He brought life from death. In the book of Acts, the disciples carried on the work Jesus began. Again, accounts of healing and divine rescue are recorded for us. Again, the power of God works through men and women for the glory of God…which is exactly what Jesus said would happen.
In John 14:11-14, Jesus explained that His works were evidence of how He was in the Father and the Father in Him…and how those who believe in Him will do the same works – and even greater things – so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
“Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask for anything in My name, and I will do it.”
For months and months now, I’ve been holding onto these threads in Scripture: faith, prayer, the power and promises of God. And as it becomes clear how much we need Him, in so many ways, I have been struck again and again by the bold declarations Jesus makes in the Gospels…declarations of who He is and who we are in Him.
And His words that are never hesitant and never second-guessing? They have caused me to ask some hard questions about my own prayers, my own faith.
Questions like this: Have I been afraid to put my full trust in His promises and in His power? Have I truly believed that I am a co-heir with Christ? Have I truly believed that His Spirit has empowered me? Do I live my life based on what He can do rather than what I can do?
Because often I have prayed with contingency plans…”a course of action to be followed if a preferred plan fails or an existing situation changes.” In other words, I have prayed, making my petitions known, even while I’ve prepared myself for God’s response to be silence or refusal. I set myself up for my preferred plan (which would be to see God to change things, to see the impossible done in His name)…to not work out. I kind of steeled my emotions and my faith for the second choice, the plan b. I tried to figure out how I would handle things in plan b.
Of course, I never said it plain like this. I never said – I am afraid that I will be disappointed…I am afraid that I will ask and not receive…I do not allow myself to fully trust that this answer will come so that I am not ‘let down’. I never said that I was afraid of overstepping my boundaries, claiming too much…afraid I’d seem guilty of trying to pursue the signs and wonders of God rather than His heart.
But as I’ve asked God to help my mustard-seed faith to grow, to help me in surrendering everything in this life to Him, those underlying feelings are what came into light.
The thing is…these feelings don’t line-up with what Jesus tells us. These feelings don’t line-up with who He is and all He has given to us.
Praying with a contingency plan does not reconcile with words like these: Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matt.17:20)
And praying with the fear that I don’t have the ‘right’ to ask for the fulfillment of His promises disregards words like these: If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! (Matt.7:11)…and…”Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three gather in My name, there I am with them…” (Matt.18:19-20)
It’s a balance, I know, this not-holding-back faith and yielding-our-will trust. I believe we must pray with open hands – expecting to receive even while willing to let go of everything we hold. We believe He is able and we trust His sovereign wisdom.
I want my prayers to be full of faith instead of doubt…when I surrender outcomes to Him, I want that surrender to be rooted in trust instead of fear. I want to get rid of contingency plans. However God chooses to act, I want His plan to be the only plan that I trust and follow. I want His building-plans, His path-before-me plans, His purpose-that-stands-forever plans, His words-that-never-fail plans.
I want to pray like Jesus tells me to pray. I want to believe who He says He is. I want to live accordingly.
Do you want this in your own life? Have you ever felt the tension of faith and surrender? Have you ever found yourself praying with contingency plans instead of expectation?
If you have, I hope you’ll stay with me as we walk through the words of Jesus. I want to hear, again, what He says about our faith and about the fruit we will bear when we believe in Him. I want to understand, anew, the more-than-we-can-comprehend power of God. Boldly and down-to-the-bones, I want to declare that nothing is impossible with God.
The amazing-grace part of this journey is this – it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6)…so God Himself, through His divine power, “gives us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
So as we put our eyes on Him, seeking to know Him more and living to glorify Him, He will be with us – helping us — every step of the way.