Saturday, August 25, 2007

Miracle on Second Street: Anticipatory Faith

The phone call literally brought me to my knees. Sometimes when devastating events occur outside of my personal world I can easily put them out of my mind. But this was different: the little girl who was deathly ill was the same age as my son (18 months). Although I knew the parents, they were not close friends so I can only explain my heavy heart as a burden from the Holy Spirit. I cried out to God for her deliverance – I pled with Him for her salvation. Tears ran down my face as I sought God’s blessing over this dear child that I didn’t even know.
I believe in the power of prayer and I often pray for the needs of my friends and family. My experience with prayer has shown me that God is sovereign and I must trust Him to make the best decision. I sense Him prompting me to pray in a certain direction – for healing as an example, but I don’t always see what the end result will be. Prayer is such a strange thing because I know God will make the right decision with or without me, but He allows and even desires my input. I don’t claim to understand this strange balance between my involvement and His last word but I do wonder if I’ve become lax in prayer fatalistically saying “It’s in God’s hands anyway.”
“We asked God to heal her and we believe that He has healed her.” That’s what the little girl’s grandparents told me when I ran into them a year after the diagnosis. The doctor’s haven’t confirmed this as a miracle, but all symptoms have disappeared and the family is living in faith. I marveled at this kind of faith – anticipatory faith. They came to God with their request and not only trusted Him to do what was best, but in faith asked for healing and received it. As they have attempted to share their joy, the parents of the healed child have run into a variety of responses. It has been an evangelistic opportunity as many non-believers have been awed to see God at work. But as my friends have shared their story with the family of God, the response has not been so optimistic. Christians are the naysayers - they don’t believe in miracles anymore.
Why is that we don’t believe in miracles? What has happened to our faith? I read the stories in the Gospels telling of Jesus’ healing touch and I have no trouble believing. But, when I am faced with circumstances today that require supernatural intervention, I am hesitant to expect God’s mighty power to intervene. Jesus told us that all we needed was a mustard seed of faith, so how could it be that our faith is too small?
I would never ever claim that someone was not healed because of a lack of faith. I can’t even say that I totally understand how God works from one situation to the next. But, I can say that God is calling me personally to a life of anticipatory faith. If He puts it on my heart, I must respond to the prompting of the Spirit and pray with conviction that God will answer. I trust Him to always do what is best, but I want to balance that with my responsibility to labor with Him for the lives of His precious children.
James Frazer wrote a small book on the prayer of faith which has greatly influenced my thinking on prayer. He had a ministry in China during which he saw God answer his very specific prayers over time. He claimed villages for God and saw God respond to his faith with far reaching defeat of Satan’s hold in those mountain villages. He took very seriously Paul’s explanation that we battle not against flesh and blood but against an unseen world. If I viewed prayer as a battlefield, this might change the way I pray – not so half-heartedly but with passion and tenacity.
I’m challenged by the faith of the centurion in Luke 7. He did not need to see Jesus physically touch his servant. He knew that Jesus held the power in His hands to do whatever was asked of Him. He simply said, in essence, if You say it’s done, then it’s done. James reminds us that we have not because we do not ask. How many times have I accepted something as fate instead of coming to God with it? Jesus put it simply: if we knock, the door will be opened; if we ask, He will answer. I balance my earnest spiritual desires with an understanding of God’s will and sovereignty, but I come to Him fully expecting a response.
My faith was bolstered by my friend’s story of miraculous healing. My heart desires to be a woman of anticipatory prayer and join God’s forces fighting evil in this world. I sense God calling me to a higher level of prayer - do you?

No comments: