Just been thinking a bit lately about how to persevere in faith for breakthrough in general and healing in particular. I think our enemy would like us to focus on past failures or times when things didn’t work out how we hoped, or prayed for.
I am feeling less inclined to give much time in my head for the past. It sounds odd as we talk about “learning from experience” but its just that I am more enthusiastic about looking at God’s word. Experience will catch up at some point I expect.
Experience says no one gets healed when you pray, God’s word says “these signs will accompany those who believe they will lay their hands on the sick and they will get well, ask and you will receive, pray for one another to be healed, the prayer of faith will make the sick well, you may ask for anything in my name and I will do it, say to this mountain move and it will move, you will do greater things than these,…”. Its like Gods word is the water in a dam that is building up and up with increasing pressure against the wall. Cracks appear. It’s going to break any minute. We will see masses of people healed as God power crashes into our experience.
Another thing that can dampen faith is the thought, again based on experience, that it will take years of prayer and fasting and calling out to God, and a trail of failure and sickness and even death before we start seeing people healed. That’s rubbish. It squashes faith. It makes me think I’ve got to pray for people for over a year expecting nothing to happen until we have proved to God how keen we are or how faithful we are. No, the next time I pray for someone I expect them to get healed because that’s the expectation that God’s word gives me. Past experience can be consigned to the dustbin of history. These days failure seems to stimulate me to fiercer warfare and higher expectation as I see a larger gulf between my experience and Gods word. I want to move into the future looking at God’s word to shape my expectation. That seem to me to be a great way to persevere even if it does take time.
Bill Jonson says of people like Smith Wigglesworth, Aimee McPherson, A. B. Simpson, John G Lake :
“they were fed up with seeing one standard in the Bible and another standard in their experience”. He goes on “that discontentment caused them to move dangerously into territory that had been inhabited by violent beasts, if you will, and so they began to posses territory that had not been possessed by any one continuously since the days of the apostles. They did it at great personal risk and sacrifice, and entered into things that where completely unknown to the church at the time.” page 158.
I too am very discontented. Didn’t Bill Hybles coin a term “Holy Discontent”? It very helpfully puts a label on the feeling you get when you see something and you know its not what God wants. When you start feeling that way it cannot stay like that for long.
Another thing that can dampen faith is the thought that “God won’t use me”. He will use someone else. It’s hard to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts” if you are thinking all the time that he won’t give you anything. There’s no faith in that at all. No, I should desire, then ask, then expect. I must not get too deflected back on my own merit and ability and even the need for prayer and preparation (although I find myself increasingly giving myself to these things these days). All that’s needed is faith as small as a mustard seed. Sure some demonic influences are only broken by prayer and fasting but the implication is that many don’t need that! There is power in the name of Jesus!
One final thing that sometimes tempts me to turn back from an attitude of faith for healing is the thought that I should be putting Jesus first and focusing on that. Its sounds very persuasive but its actually an accusation in disguise to distract me. It infers that I am not putting Jesus first which I most defiantly am. I will not be distracted from something Jesus was so clear about by thoughts that I am not loving him enough. I love him and honour him and put him first by stepping out in obedience in this key area. Of course there as several things we need to keep in balance as Christians. That’s why I am so excited about preaching on this as the other guys take up complementary key strands of biblical truth. It’s a very safe, balanced context to do it in. Every three weeks or so I will preach on healing while the other two weeks Toby will look at characters from Acts and Goff will look at living in Christ.
A final word from Bill Johnson
“its not normal for a Christian to not have an appetite for the impossible. Its completely abnormal. It’s a deformity that comes through disappointment and or bad teaching”. p.165
I am resolved to preach on healing for a year, teaching into it and stepping out in it .
Oh and one final quote. One of my favourites:
“the real tragedy is not unanswered prayer. Its un-asked for prayer”.
I will not be enslaved by my past experience. Vindicate your word Lord God!