Sunday I spoke from James 5:13-18. You can click here to listen to the sermon
It was about prayer, including prayer for healing. This is a difficult topic because how many of us have not prayed for healing, either for ourselves or for a loved one, or wanted answers from God about various things that concern us and have felt like our pleas got no further than the ceiling. It would be so great if there was a formula we could follow and know our prayers would not only be heard, but answered in the way we want them to. And I suppose there is if you take into account what Jesus said to his disciples in John 15.
John 15:7, 16 (NLT)
7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
These are two very interesting statements Jesus makes. He sort of gives the formula we've all been looking for. The caveat though is that it all comes down to the motives of our hearts. What are we asking for and why?
In verse 7 Jesus says if we spend time with him, marinate in his Word, get to know him intimately so the the things we ask for will be the things we know he would want for us. Which only makes sense. He knows what is best for us. Why would we not trust him? The problem is that we often times don't want to give way to his will in our lives.
In verse 16 he says the reason he has called us is to produce eternal fruit. If we do that we can ask for whatever we want and God the Father will grant it to us.
In both verse 7 and verse 16 Jesus says there is a way we can get whatever we want. The caveat in both cases is that we need to have our hearts changed so the things we want are the things that God would want.
Jesus adds in verse 17;
17 This is my command: Love each other.
This is the crux of the matter. Motives are difficult to discern - even our own. The Bible says that "God is love." (1 John 4:16) At his very core, God is love. Everthing he does is from that motive - For God so loved the world. So, what Jesus wants to do as we apprentice with him is to change our hearts so our motives are the same as his. The things we ask for are the same things he would want for us. That is how he taught his disciples to pray in the great Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 6:9–15 (NLT)
9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
In heaven God's will is always done. Down here, on earth? Not so much. When we pray we should pray like Jesus taught, that his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Here are a couple passages of Scripture to encourage you hearts. God is a God who hears and answers. He is above all a rescuing God. That is the overarching message of the Bible.
Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 27:8–14 (NLT)
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” 9 Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation! 10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. 11 Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. 12 Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. 13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. 14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Father, I pray your peace would rest on each person who reads this blog as they wait for you.