I was sharing my last blog with my family the other night and my eldest daughter (14) challenged me to sum it up in one sentence. So here goes:
Faith comes by hearing Jesus Christ speaking by the Holy Spirit the Word of God into your heart and mind and not just by seeing words on a page or hearing them from someone else.
So here are a few first hand examples:
I know a man (as Paul might have said in 2 Cor 12:2) who was in a middle eastern country some years ago living in a rented accommodation with his wife. The landlady lived on the top floor of the same apartment with her brother and sister. When the man went up to pay his rent for the first time he was asked about why he and his wife were there. So he explained that they were there primarily to help Christians in the country. At her sister’s prompting the landlady then asked if the man could pray for her since she had a continuous head ache/ migraine that she could not get rid of by any medicine or doctors. So the man prayed and God showed him clearly the reason she had the headache. She had the headache because there was someone who had done something in the past to her that she had never forgiven him for (a word of knowledge 1 Cor. 12:8). After the man had got up the courage to say this to the landlady, her sister immediately piped up and said, “Yes, you know so-and-so that did such-and-such to you 13 years ago!” So the landlady prayed forgiveness for the person and was healed of her headache. A few weeks later she was still thanking God for the healing and telling others. That could have been the start of a series of healings except that the man through whom the healing had come said to the first of the cousins that came with sick children that they could pray themselves, they didn’t need him to pray for them. However the problem was that these people didn’t know how to hear God speak to them. He often wondered what would have happened if the selfishness and false humility hadn’t kicked in just then, over 25 years ago now.
The above is an example of where the word of God in response to a prayer was “yes”. Not long after that we were involved in another situation where the answer to many prayers that looked for the answer “please heal” was “no”.
In the mission organisation we were involved in, one of the wives of a missionary in North Africa was seriously ill. The leaders of the movement and many others started praying and fasting for her. At that time the idea that “if you have enough faith you can see her healed” was prevalent among them. So they tried to work up the faith, quoting the usual Scriptures and speaking forth healing in Jesus name as many do. Thankfully there were others who were also trying to find out what God wanted. After a few weeks, there was no sign of the woman improving, she was in fact getting worse. Everyone then met at a leader’s meeting to seek the Lord further and we were invited along to wash the dishes and generally serve the leaders (something we were delighted to do since we would also be able to attend the prayer times which, with that group, were always powerful and exciting). The Lord’s presence was palpable and we all knew He was with us. One of the main leaders then got up and explained how he and his wife had believed for weeks that Ann* was going to be healed but that still it hadn’t happened. He now thought that actually God wanted them to let her go (he heard the Word of God). After waiting on the Lord we then all felt as if her spirit had gone to be with the Lord. We later found out that she had indeed passed on at about the same time.
*Not her real name.