Prayers of Faith

Below is a submission by Mark pertaining to Faith prayers. He makes some good points on how we can damage our own faith when prayers aren’t answered. Here are a few scriptures that spoke to me while reading his submission –

James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Isaiah 1:15-16 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

Matthew 17:20-21 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Lastly, I recommend these 3 posts –

How to get answered prayers Part 1

How to get answered prayers Part 2

Knowing God’s Will

Thank you Mark for sharing your experiences –

I would like to relate why we are sometimes not with God, because I have found that there are ways to keep Him at Distance, because I have been able to do so for about 30 years now as a Christian, without knowing why this Distance was so far. (I should state for clarification that I have been following what are called “faith teachings” for most of my Christian life, and that I have begun to see how the enemy has used these teachings as best he can to cripple my walk with God. The enemy will attempt to infiltrate any beliefs, whether founded upon the bible or not, and he was quite successful with me in this regard.)(Faith teachings, to sum up, promise that if one has enough faith in God, pretty much all prayers will be answered.)I believe God has been trying to show me that I have been utilizing Him, kind of as a Life Enrichment Being, as a result of these teachings. I did not see it this way previously, and thought that I was following Him in doctrines in accordance with His plan, more or less.

The answer (of how I had come to separate myself from God) came to me in this way, from a verse I sort of invented, because that is the way I had remembered the verse. It is this, from Heb. 11:6.

…anyone who comes to Him must believe that He is good and that He rewards those who those who diligently seek Him.

In my life I have seen as a result of the faith message, that because I understood that I was to seek Him, and rely upon Him for my heart’s necessities, and even believe that He would reward one such as I, even here, that a coldness can easily creep in, in a stealthy way against God when one believes he has met as well as he can the conditions of verses such as these, without seeing the promised blessings. In other words, when one believes that his faith is strong or at least acceptable enough, and yet answers to prayer seem to be set at bay, one begins to question the goodness of God. Because, after thirty years, if one can not make the faith teachings work well in his life, the subconscious has no recourse but to blame God. Which is to say that if it seems that I am complying with the dictates of the faith message, and that I have the requisite faith to receive answers to prayer, or at least am growing in faith in a way which God should approve, then something must be amiss, and it becomes easy for the undercurrents of thought to assemble themselves against God and His goodness. In short, because answers to prayer were not forthcoming, and I had been promised that they would, my spirit became crushed under the weight of the belief that God was not such a friend as I had been taught.

When one believes he or she has met such conditions as laid down in the faith message, and yet answers to prayer are not, and times of travail are ever flowing, and God seems to show His blessings through testings which steal the fire of love for God, the heart learns to shut down and it informs the subconscious quite loudly, that surely God is almost mocking your faith; even though consciously I would never allow myself to dwell on such things and thoughts for a time. But thoughts concerning God crept in upon me, and I had no way to say, “but surely these thoughts are fictional, just look at the joy God has given me”. And how could I think such a good thing when joy always seemed to be hiding in someone else’s backyard and not to be found in any end of the rainbow that came my way?

It is not that the words of God never flowed through me in such a way as perhaps they do now, it is not that I did not receive of God in any way; it is just that I could not honestly and wholeheartedly say God is in my corner, because even the corner seemed at times to be stolen from me by God or by an agent whom God had allowed. This is not to accuse God; it just seemed that somehow the line of blessing between Him and I had been severed, and if it was my fault, why was God not showing me how to correct my ways before Him? When I do not recoil at the thought of giving to Him what He may ask for, as long as He helps to provide the strength to accomplish His desire?I knew in my heart that there was nothing, no room, no cellar, no hiding place I kept from Him, where I said “stay here outside the door and do not enter…this is my room and here You are not welcome like in my other rooms”.I just knew that the shadows played with me freely and I had no arrows which would stop their advance.

But then recently God reminded me of this verse, which was basically saying (to me) that for God to bless me I must understand with every fiber of my inner being that GOD IS GOOD. Nothing else matters in our walk if we do not see this clearly. I had never really let that thought of His goodness blossom in my heart. I can believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him all I want, but if I have let myself forget that GOD IS GOOD and there is NO BEING THAT HAS GOODNESS LIKE GOD, then my faith must not reach its end, because God can not reward me fully until I understand that there is nothing that God would rather do than pal around with me and show Himself friend-worthy and blast me with blessings, except for the fact that there are those things which restrain His blessings toward us.

What I had let myself forget is that God so wants to be trusted because He wants every experience of our life to flow with Him, just like you and I want to bless others at times. BUT MORE SO WITH HIM.  WE DO NOT BLESS OTHERS NECESSARILY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN US or because we promised we would and now we are obliged by our promise. WE BLESS OTHERS WHEN WE DO BECAUSE WE ARE INSPIRED BY GOD’S AGAPE LOVE TO DO SO. AND IT IS THE SAME WITH GOD. WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT BECAUSE OF HIS GOODNESS WHICH HE CAN NOT RESTRAIN THAT HE DESIRES TO BLESS FIERCELY.  If we believe that He will answer our prayers, it does not make it so unless we believe that He answers prayers simply because it is joy for Him to do so. We should understand that He wants us to know that we can restrain His goodness when we do not see His immense heart of graciousness which He so greatly desires to have pulsing in us. This is not meant to reinforce the faith message; sometimes it seems that prayers are not answered. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT GOD DOES NOT WANT TO ANSWER THE PRAYER. It only means that there is some restraint upon Him which serves to keep Him from doing that which He has the power and desire to do. He is bound by certain restrictions which He has allowed to affect His family upon earth.

And so I had forgot for many years, that it was more necessary to cultivate in my innermost perceptions that God is aching to bless us because THAT is the goodness of His nature which can not be turned back unless it is turned back by our hardness of heart which allows us to think that perhaps God wants to hold out on us.

Just as when someone falsely accuses us of doing something wrong, and we protest because we prefer to be seen by others as having better intents than that, so also does God want to be viewed as having extremely good intent regardless of what occurs in this world or in our life.

He wants to be loved with an agape love, which is to say He desires to be loved regardless of how things are on earth for us.

Comparing Two Ways of Prayer

To make this more clear, I compare two ways of prayer. The first way of prayer is for me, self focused, and here are the steps involved in this prayer:

1) A need arises.2) I condition my mind to believe that God will address this need. I tell myself God will answer my prayer regarding this need.

I may praise God that the need will be met by Him (as we were taught by faith teachers). I am not praising Him for Who He is primarily, I am simply using praise to manipulate God into answering my prayer. I may listen to videos or teachings which will substantiate my belief that I can manipulate God by having faith in His word and in His promises regarding answered prayers.

3a) If the prayer is answered satisfactorily, and if there is a sufficient hardness of heart within, I will congratulate myself for having enough faith to receive the answer to prayer. I will glorify myself, but because I do not want to acknowledge that I am glorifying myself, I try to keep my pride at bay, and try to keep my mind on higher things, and on God. I try to keep my relationship with God honest, but my style of prayer is undermining my relationship with God to a degree.3b) If the prayer is not answered satisfactorily, I am discouraged. It is possible that I may not need that prayer answered and the Holy Spirit may comfort me somewhat regardless.However, most of my prayers, at least the ones I keep bringing before Him are not frivolous, and on the scale of things, somewhat necessary in order to feel that there is any real value in praying to God for help in my situations.

If the answers to prayer are too few and years drag on without relief, anger at God may set in. There is a sense of wonder at whether God has abandoned me. These emotions are kept under check and under the surface as I keep telling myself that God will pull through for me someday.

That summarizes the first way of prayer, and now a second way of prayer which is more God focused, and the steps involved:1) A need arises.2) I acknowledge that God is love and that He desires to answer all mature prayers, but that there are certain constrictions, there are hindrances and restraints to what God will do upon earth for mankind. I acknowledge that just as I would like to come up with answers to others problems when they tell me about them, so also would God delight to answer all prayers offered to Him if they are offered in the right spirit. I acknowledge that it would be God’s preference if we were still in Garden of Eden-like conditions, but that that point has been passed, and not all prayers will be answered.

And so I Absorb myself in the love of God for me. He wants to bless everything about me, but some blessings will wait until heaven arrives fully. His heart of blessing is not changed by our passing into heaven. He does not wish to hold out on us while we abide on earth and then change His mind after our passing and then decide He really wants to bless us in heaven. His desire to bless is unconditional. The most practical way of sensing His love for me is to understand that He would love to be closer to me, and to respond to my every serious desire and need. Thankfulness towards Him becomes more natural as I understand that He wants to answer my prayers in every detail,  if that were possible on earth.

3a)If the prayer is answered, I acknowledge that it is because of His goodness and mercy alone. It is not my faith in His promises for me which has bought the answer to prayer, it is only doubt against Him and His intentions toward me which interferes in the answer to prayer. I can only interfere in the answer to prayer. God would love to answer more prayer except for the interference which we as humanity give Him.

3b) If the prayer is not answered in the way I would have liked, I trust in Him to supply me with joy regardless of the outcome. I do not blame myself for unanswered prayer even though I may somehow be hindering the answer to prayer. I can not blame myself because I can not be sure if the source of the hindrance to answered prayer springs from within me or without.

And so the enveloping ourselves in God’s love for us becomes a foundation for mature prayer.  It acknowledges God’s power and desire to answer all prayer, even though such prayers may not be answered as we wish. Because He wants to answer our prayer, it is easier to love Him, because His love is not completely impractical…it is a love which wants to touch us on earth.

Not a Diatribe Against Faith Teachers

For purposes of the unity of faith in the Body of Christ, I do not wish to imply that the faith message as it is usually taught is necessarily inappropriate for all believers. There are those who have gifts of healing, faith, and miracles (1 Cor. 12: 9,10).

People with these gifts may tend to see almost everything that has visited earth since the fall of mankind as being supplied through the hand of the enemy. Thus, they may take a very aggressive stance against diseases, oppressions of any nature, financial deprivations, and even acts of nature such as hurricanes etc. The trick for the believer is to acknowledge in truth whether following the more mature faith teachings as they are presented to us is beneficial for them individually. For some who have had continued serious physical or other serious difficulties, it is very satisfying to the ego for a time to believe in these teachings, until one finds that God is not honoring the prayers being offered up in the way which would seem in accordance with faith teachings. And so every believer needs to find their own niche in God, to learn how God wants them to relate to Him. There are some who are at home with God more when they surround themselves with the knowledge of His promises toward us.

Also, this is not a diatribe against the teachings of those like Joni Eareckson Tada, who has suffered greatly through physical handicap. There are those who have offered up their prayers to God as strenuously as they are able, and yet have not received needed breakthroughs in answer to prayer. These ministers of God should be upheld and not looked down upon by those in the faith movement lest they be taken in by a spirit of condescension. For those who may look down upon her teachings (that God is to be looked at primarily as one Who gives strength within difficulties) I would say, pray for her and see if your faith can heal her. And if you must blame her difficulties on her lack of faith, pray for her faith. To walk in love is better than walking in faith without love.

Hope this meets someones heart. Mark


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