Growing in Faith to Pray
Making the Impossible a Reality – Part 1
PRAYERS FOR RAIN
There had been a severe drought, and the members of a rural congregation were deeply concerned that their crops would be ruined.
One Sunday, therefore, the minister said to his congregation, “Brothers and sisters, I understand your deep concern about the harvest. There is nothing that will save us, except a special service of prayer for rain. The Lord promises that if we pray in FAITH, He will hear us. So go to your homes now, fast for a week, and pray. Then, next Sunday, we shall hold a service to claim the Lord’s promise because I just know it will rain next week at this same time!”
The people fasted during the week, then returned to church the following Sunday morning. But as soon as the minister saw them, he was indignant. “Go away!” he shouted. “How can you expect to claim the Lord’s promise if you have no FAITH?”
“But Reverend,” they protested, “we fasted and prayed, and we have come believing that the Lord will be true to His word.”
“Believing?” exclaimed the minister. “Believing?! Then where in the world are your UMBRELLAS?”
I want to talk to you today about growing in faith to pray. I want to begin this new year calling on you to pray. Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing. God says that when we pray He goes to work. The Holy Spirit prompts us to pray. So prayer is essential to the Christian life. Then how come do we not pray?
Let us be honest, how much time do you and I spend in prayer? Now I am not talking about praying for others. I am talking about praying for yourself. How often do you and I spend praying for what God could give us.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about praying to win the lotttery. I am not saying that you should pray for God to solve all your problems the easy way. I want to talk to you about praying for promises that God has given in His word.
Now, I am going to be speaking specifically to couples today. This principle will work for singles and it will work for people who are praying for just about anything. If you need something, you need to learn to ask.
Now, James says to ask in faith without doubting.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(James 1:5-8 NKJV)
But you say Pastor, that does not apply because that is about wisdom, not about what I want. Well, if you don’t know how to get what you want, then you need wisdom to get it. So, this verse very much applies.
First, let me share with you the struggles that you and I may go through when it comes to growing in faith to pray.
STRUGGLE #1 – We often pray in faith more for others than we do for ourselves.
This means it is easier to ask God to help someone else and believe it will happen. I think every husband should want to pray for their wife. They should ask for God to help them. I think every parent would find it easy to pray for their child. They should ask for God to help them. We should believe it is possible. When our child wants to go to a certain school, we should be praying for it. When our child wants a certain job, we should be praying for it. Many times we can help. At the very least, we believe it is possible for our children. We believe it is possible for our wives. We believe it is possible for our friends.
Now, if you don’t pray in faith for others, then you need to learn to do that. You need to go through that struggle. There is a reason for this. If you pray in faith believing it will happen for your wife, your husband, your children, your friends, your family – and God answers (and He will answer), then you learn that God answers prayer. You grow and God helps you. Now you don’t pray for the other person because you think there is something wrong. No, you pray because you love them.
If however, you pray for yourself and you struggle, you may get distressed and think it is not possible for yourself. You may quit believing God to fulfill His promises because of some problem you think is within you.
So many of us think – “Well, the promises of God I can pray for my wife, my friend, my brother, my parents – and God answers it. Hallelujah!” This I can do. I know that I can pray for them and God will answer. Good. You grow. You find it easier to pray. That is good.
STRUGGLE #2 – We don’t believe the promises of God are for ourselves
Sometimes we think: That can’t happen. That promise can happen to someone else. But that can’t happen to me. That promise ____________, can’t happen to me. This thinking happens because we are struggling with some problems. Here are the problems that you and I may struggle with:
PROBLEM – I don’t believe God is good to me.
You may believe God is good, just not to you. You may say: God is good to the person, but not to me. That goes to a fundamental false thought – God does not love me. Because God does not love me, He won’t (or can’t) do anything good for me. You may think that God does not love you for some reason. But God does not say that here. He says this:
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
(Deuteronomy 7:7-8 NKJV)
God set His love on you because God loves you. God does not love based on criteria that the world may place on ourselves – We love because they are beautiful. We love because they treat me well. We love because they have money.
God does not do that with His love. God loves you because He loves you. There are no strings attached. There are no conditions. God simply loves you.
When you believe that God loves you, then you will realize that God will want to do you good.
“Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
(Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV)
God is a faithful God who keeps His promises. He is merciful for generations to families that follow Him. This promise is only for Christians. But it is also clear that God wants to do good in our lives. You have to believe that.
PROBLEM – I don’t believe I am worthy of the promise.
There is no scripture where God forbids a woman to have because of her sin. There is one verse where God prevents women from having children (He closed their wombs) because God protected Abraham and Sarah. God knew that Abraham had lied to protect himself and that Abimelech might want to harm Sarah. So God closed all of the wombs.
But nowhere does God say to a woman – you can’t have children. In fact, God says the opposite. He says: pray and I will give you a child. Because God knows that it is very natural for women to have children. It is a normal thing. As a matter, He supernaturally allows it for older women.
Maybe you think you are worthy of the promise. You know that God loves you. You know that He wants to do you good. You know that He gives promises, but you don’t think that the promise applies.
Here is the next problem.
PROBLEM – I don’t believe that the promise applies to me.
So this promise of being able to have children is for women. You may say: Of course, she is a woman and back in those days, that was the purpose of a woman is to have children. They could not work and they had to stay home and take care of the babies. So if they had no children, it was a very difficult life.
You may be a woman thinking: This promise does not apply to me. I am supposed to work. My husband can’t work, so I have to work. I can’t take this promise. This promise does not apply to me anymore.
Men, you may be thinking, “this promise is for women”. God does not say anything about me. Perhaps you are having problems having children, men. Perhaps you were told that you are infertile. Perhaps you thought – yes God is good to me, but not in this case. Well, listen up.
Men, you may have thought like I did – this is my wife’s goal – her promise. She wants to have a child, OK. She’ll get pregnant, and she will work for it. Her work, but I will help.
But I am not too sure that this “having a child” promise applies to me. I went to the Urologist. I got tested. His answer was: “Sie sind in bisschen faul.” They are a little lazy. Not slow, but lazy.
After the visit, I was reading Deuteronomy 7. I was actually reading the part where God says that He loves you because He loves you. Then I kept reading and I discovered this verse.
You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock.
(Deuteronomy 7:14 NKJV)
After reading this verse I realized something. God loves me because He loves me. He gives me promises because He loves me. Oh, and by the way, here is a verse for me. Here is another promise, but for men.
If you believe the Bible is true, then you have to get to the point where you trust what it says about you more than you do what others say about you. For example, you will hear someone say: You are not good enough to do this: __________________. But when you in the Bible that something is true, and it is true about you, then you can have the assurance that God will make it happen.
But you have doubts. You say: Yeah, that is possible but I am not too sure it is true for me. I can’t believe that. So what do you do?
HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR STRUGGLES IN PRAYER
STEP 1 – Pray to receive the belief
You may say: I want that to happen. But I don’t believe it can happen. Then you have to ask God for the belief so that you can later ask God for the promise. You can’t ask God in faith for something when you don’t have the faith to believe that God will carry out the promise He says He will carry out.
This was the case with Heike’s kidney. I believed that she could get a kidney. Because I saw no other way that Heike could make it. Because I love her, I prayed for her to receive a kidney. Heike on the hand, at first did not believe that getting the kidney was possible. She had a belief problem. So I suggested to pray for God to give her the belief first, and then she could pray for the kidney.
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:23-24 NKJV)
Once you have the belief that God can answer your prayers, then pray in faith for the promise.
STEP 2 – Keep praying in faith for the promise.
Praying in faith for a promise is praying like something is true, even though it is not yet true. You pray today for something that will happen. You don’t know how yet, but you pray expecting God to answer the prayer.
It is like when a child asks the father for something. When the father says that the child can have it, then the child knows it is true. The child does not think that the father will break the promise. Instead, the child knows that the father will keep the promise. This is because that is what fathers do. Jesus said it this way:
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
(Matthew 7:11 NKJV)
When Jesus talks here about God giving good gifts, He states that we must continually pray. He says to ask, knock, and seek. But the way He said it in Greek was keep asking, keep knocking, and keep seeking. So, you have to keep praying. You don’t stop.
Here is a rule that I learned about prayer. You pray for the yes to your prayers. When there is no answer, it is not a NO to your prayers. It is just not yet a YES.
This leads to my next step:
STEP 3 – Wait for God to answer.
You keep praying until God clearly gives the answer. Until God clearly tells you NO (which He will not do for a promise), you pray like it is a YES. This is praying in faith for the promise. But many of us don’t wait. Step 3 is to wait for God to answer. Sometimes, we want to take the matter in our own hands and say, I can do it better than God.
Sarah did that, and she screwed up big time. She had another son in the family and this son became an enemy to Abraham’s family. David did that and counted the armies because He thought his army was big enough for everything. People died because of his impatience.
You have to wait, because you have to wait. God is never late and God is never early. But He is on time with His promises. Waiting teaches us to trust God because God is the only one who can fulfill the promises.