(School of Prophesy 14 Nov 2020)
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I enjoy cooking and do a lot of it. Some of my meals are experiments; some are “regulars.” Cooked breakfast based around bacon, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes on Saturday morning is a “regular:” before I break the first egg I know what the complete meal will look like on the table and taste like when we eat it. I have faith for it. The word “substance,” in Hebrews 11: 1 is hypostasis, which literally means something that is “set under;” firm foundation that has actual substance. Elegchos, “evidence,” is just that: it’s proof of reality. That egg isn’t broken in a vague hope that somehow it will become scrambled and the rest of the breakfast will also appear from an unexpected source: I have a track record of making lot of breakfasts successfully. My faith in what is not yet seen has a substantial foundation and strong evidence to support it.
For a faith-filled walk with Jesus the same principles apply: the difference is that we put our trust in His “track record,” and not our own. We know that Hebrews 11:6 tells us “without faith it is impossible to please (God): for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him,” but to see answers to our prayers, and, more importantly, to grow in our faith, I believe we have to be more focussed and specific in how we exercise it.
I think a key verse is John 15:16: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” We tend to connect “bearing fruit” with becoming more Christlike as we increasingly manifest the Galatians 5 fruit of the Spirit. However Jesus, whose likeness we seek, directly links fruitfulness with answered prayer. Whatever we ask in the name of Jesus the Father will give us, and that fruit will remain.
Anne and I own a small business. If I say to one employee: “John, go and ask Phil to fetch me a large box from the warehouse, please,” John will be passing an instruction on to Phil in my name. If John then just gives Phil a generic request to get me a container, and Phil comes back with a glass measuring jug, for example, did John pass on the request in my name? No. The measuring jug won’t do the job that I needed the box for. Jesus knows what He needs to build His Kingdom much better than we do, which is why Paul says in Romans 8:26 that we don’t know what to pray for. If we want our prayers to be answered we need to know what to ask for, and we have to hear this from Jesus by the Holy Spirit, because it’s in His name that we are asking.
Faith is like a muscle: it grows from exercise. The more we pray according to the Holy Spirit’s instructions, the more we will see our prayers answered; and the more we see answers to prayer, the more we will seek God for what to ask for. And so we begin to develop our own personal track record, not of what we’ve done, but of what we’ve seen Jesus do; and our faith grows until we start to see those “greater things” happening through our prayers that Jesus has promised us. No more should our faith be like a grappling hook on the end of a long rope that we sling in God’s direction, in the hope that we can hang onto something substantial: the evidence and the substance of the outcome that we are praying for, in the name of Jesus and according to His instructions, can be seen in the history of answered prayers that we already have accumulated.
Psalm 2: 8 says “Ask Me, and I will give the nations as Your inheritance.” God told Heidi Baker to ask Him for a nation, and she asked Him for Mozambique. He gave it to her: multiple thousands have been saved and healed in that country, and others around it, since then, and Iris Ministries was born. Heidi Baker had already exercised her faith muscle enough for the Lord to know that He could trust her with that prayer. She was a long way past “breakfast.” She has borne fruit a hundredfold, and many times a hundredfold, and has been living in a season of “greater things” for many years. So yes, God will indeed give us “anything we ask:” He said so, therefore it must be true. There is no limit to His ability and desire to give to His children. But we have to ask according to our faith. When the two blind men approached Jesus after He had raised Jairus’s daughter and asked for healing, He said to them: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” (Matt. 9:28). So “Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” Like those blind men, we have to see by faith what God is going to do.
Where are we in our faith journey? Are we on the road to the “greater things,” or are we still standing in the same place with our grappling hook, and just hoping God will reach out and grab it when it’s thrown? The disciples asked Jesus to teach us how to pray, and in the Lord’s Prayer He gave us a series of chapter headings on the different areas that we should cover. (For more on this topic, see “Praying with Jesus, by Paul Yonggi Cho; written in 1988, but just as fresh today.) If we are still just praying the chapter headings, we haven’t learnt anything. If we are praying for “all the sick in our town,” or even in our church, we haven’t learnt anything. It’s not what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us to pray for other people out of our relationship with Him, asking the Father for what the Holy Spirit reveals to us as His will.
Like everything else in our journey, our prayers must spring out of our relationship with Jesus. If Jill’s life is in a mess and our hearts goes out to her, it’s not enough to say, “Lord, Jill’s life is in a mess. Please sort her out!” That’s just a grappling hook with nowhere to land. The test is simple: where is the faith that is the evidence and the substance of the answer? It’s not there. But if we ask the Holy Spirit for revelation, and we get a sense of a particular problem in Jill’s life that the Lord wants to address, then we can have faith for a clear outcome that becomes the substance of our prayers. Our prayers will flow from our relationship with Jesus, not our relationship with Jill. This is one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit gives words of Knowledge: if we know that God is going to open deaf ears in a meeting, because He has told us, we can step out and break the eggs, knowing that He is going to make the omelette.
As we move forward into the uncharted waters of today’s world, believing that God has got a great move of the Holy Spirit planned and knowing that the enemy will do everything he can to get in the way, it is of paramount importance that we grow in faith and keep moving along the path to those “greater things” of John 14:12. Like a parent on a busy sidewalk holding a child’s hand as they hurry to catch a train, Jesus is saying to us “Stay close!” The time is advancing quickly, but in His presence there is always provision and protection. If we ensure that our prayers always come from that proximity to Him we will bear fruit to His glory and our faith will grow. But if, in the full knowledge of Romans 8:26 we continue to pray without knowing what to pray for, we will be standing still while Jesus leads those who are staying close towards the station. And when that revival train pulls into the platform and the doors open for a few minutes, we won’t be getting on board.
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