Furnaces of faith or fellowships of fatalism?

I have been wrestling about the nature of faith and of what our prayers represent. Do we really believe that, as the old adage has it, ‘Prayer changes things’? I would think most of us have seen moments in our lives when prayers have been answered in a way that’s quite remarkable and has completely transformed a desperate situation. Those are the moments when we say ‘That’s a miracle! It’s amazing!’ But somehow or other the fact that God has done this doesn’t transform our lives and doesn’t change our thinking. We continue to go on praying in the same way. That is why we, having seen a miracle happen once, are no better at seeing that miracle happen again – although we should be.

It’s not just about that good old get-out ‘The Sovereign Will of God’. Yes, God is Sovereign but as far as I know his Sovereign will is that all those on whom we lay hands should be healed. That is what Jesus commanded us to do and since Jesus represents perfectly the Sovereign will of God, then that is what we should be seeing. When we don’t see it, it’s because we have failed to learn the lessons of the previous blessings and we’ve reverted to old patterns of unbelief.

So what happens is, our churches, instead of becoming Furnaces of Faith have become Fellowships of Fatalism. Yes, I know that’s a bit of alliteration! But I want to nail something here. It is too easy for our prayers to be more influenced by our failures than by our victories. It is true that not everyone we pray for gets healed. Part of the reason for that is we don’t know what is going on in their lives nor do we know what keys we may have missed in our praying or what blockages there may be. But we remain convinced – don’t we? – that the perfect will of God is that ‘They will lay hands on the sick and they will be healed’. This was not just the experience of Jesus but as that last quotation from Mark 16 reveals, it was the experience of the early church. After Jesus had ascended and his physical body glorified had ascended into the place of authority in Heaven, the works which he had done on earth he continued to do through his body on earth. WE are that Body.

There is a lovely moment when Jesus calls the blind man to come and be healed and the Bible says, “He left behind his beggar’s cloak”. I really believe it is time for the church in this nation and in many others to leave behind its beggar’s cloak and come with confidence to the Living Lord Jesus who can not only open our spiritual eyes, but also empower our mouths to speak his Kingdom word. After all, it’s not a miracle that the Son of God himself should be able to speak a word which unleashes the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth. That is no more than we should expect. The miracle is that in his death and resurrection and empowering by the Holy Spirit, he has enabled ordinary screwed up people, imperfect members of the Body like you and me to speak with such authority that we release the Kingdom in our circumstances and even more importantly in the circumstances in others around us.

I love that line from the song, ‘Dressed in royal robes I don’t deserve.’ It is time for us to abandon the beggar’s cloak and put on the robe of royalty that Jesus died to purchase for us.