God’s answers to prayer always hinge on what He wills for our life based on eternal priorities vs. temporal ones. Let’s look at some proven strategies to find out what God wants to do before you get to the disappointing end at a closed door and feel like God has let you down.
During the eighties a “faith movement” rose up in America. Its teachings seemed very attractive, however, it took scriptures out of context, pairing them with other scriptures, which seemed compatible. Then conjectures were added to whet the appetite of those seeking new truth, adding them to a collection of teachings, and they were dubbed the “prosperity gospel.” Countless believers agreed that “old school” Christianity that taught sacrifice and self-denial was simply not the pattern that God had in mind for his New Testament church. They taught that because the word “Christian” meant “little Christ”, we should be able to work the same miracles that Jesus did. This “little god” doctrine, which had surfaced before in church history was rebranded “The Power of the Believer” and sold like hotcakes with real maple syrup on a cold winter day!
For about five years of my life I ran a drop-in youth center. One week a group of girls came in and announced that they were Wicca witches. They tried to convince me that what they believed in was good since as “white witches”, they only cast good curses and spells. So I asked them a question. “There are two mothers in a town and only one job available. Each mother qualifies for the job. I take it that you could use Wicca spells to have that job fall to the one mother whom you felt was the most needy?” They said, “Yes.” So I then asked, “How would you know which mother needed that job the most?” They admitted that they would not know. I told them that “since God sees not only the immediate situations but also the eternal consequences of everything, when we as Christians pray, we can trust in God’s answers. We understand that because He is all knowing, only He can make those kind of difficult decisions.” I further explained to them that “witchcraft whether white or black is classified as sinful and a work of man’s flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 of the New Testament.” I then pointed them to a better way and the gift of salvation through Christ.
Therefore, when we as believers face any situation where we recognize that we need divine intervention we must always remember God sees the “big picture.” He sees how that every decision is tied into all the decisions of everyone else around them. Billy Graham once said, referring to a complicated situation, “How do you unscramble eggs?” Only God, with his infinite foreknowledge and wisdom knows the best answer to prayer in every situation. Whatever we are praying about we must be careful not to try to force the answer by the power of our mind, the power of our words, or the power of our will. Such actions run a rail so close to the practice of white witchcraft that they should raise concern. George Muller who built multiple orphanages by true faith in the 1800’s, through his absolute dependence on prayer, stated; “As you pray for God’s will to be done, have no mind of your own in the matter.”
Whenever a doctrine concerns me I pray for wisdom and to dig into the roots of those teachings. I examined the claim that if their faith was strong enough, each believer could be empowered to work many miracles in the name of Jesus. The Greek word “dunamis” was used in those teachings describing the power of the Holy Spirit, which rested on the disciples. Dunamis is the root word from where we get our word for dynamite. Using Jesus words “for greater things than these shall ye do for I go to my Father” the “Faith Movement Teachers” proclaimed that we as believers can do everything that Jesus did, and more. In their circles, prayers for God’s will to be done were felt to be weak. “His word is His will” they would proclaim, pairing that statement with the scripture “God is no respecter of persons”, Acts 10:34b (KJV), taken out of context. They would then add, “If He did it for one person, He will do it for you!” They ignored the fact that the “respecter of persons” verse deals very clearly with salvation and not individual answers to prayer. They pressed on growing in numbers, selling more books, promoting their supposed new doctrine. After all it sounded great!
What no one realized was that the Greek word to describe the power that Jesus had received on earth was due to His purely righteous life and His total separation unto His Father’s will. It was not “dunamis” power as was given to His disciples which means limited power. Instead Jesus received “exousia” power, which meant unlimited, absolute, or unrestricted power. Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words W.E. Vine Page 868
No New Testament believer ever came close to replicating the hundreds of miracles that Jesus performed. Most theologians agree that the “greater works that Jesus was referring to was the fact that the disciples would lead people to the gift of salvation which He felt would be greater than any miracle He ever accomplished.
You see, true faith does not begin with me, or what I want. It grows out of a one on one relationship with God. As you seek Him daily He will, from time to time, reveal actions that He wants you to take. As you pray about those things, and walk in obedience to Him He will bring those things to pass. They can be small things or great big things depending on His will for your life. True rock solid Biblical faith does not begin with you, and your wants, it begins with God!
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.