I had to travel for work this week, which gave me the opportunity to listen to several sermons, while I drove. There was one, in particular, by Francis Chan that really resonated and has become the topic for today’s discussion.
He was delivering a sermon at a conference for pastors. In this sermon he was talking about what he believes to be the most valuable asset for a pastor to possess for the health of their particular congregation. I would add, that it would apply to the church outside our walls as well. That asset was how the pastor prayed. Specifically, does he pray for members of the church by name and does he fall to his knees and pray as Paul did in Ephesians 3?
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NASB) ‘For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. ‘
His point, is to mirror Paul, not just in deed but in heart. Paul so loved his brothers and sisters, he so desired for all the world to be saved and to know the love of the Father and the Son, that he would pray for them in a way that was calling on the Father to bless them with the in-dwelling of the immeasurable power of the Holy Spirit.
As I thought about this prayer, I honestly could not recall a time when I prayed like that for someone with that depth of love and determination.
I often pray that God will see a particular person through a difficult time. I pray often for Him to grant them peace, wisdom, joy, strength and especially healing. These are important prayers, for sure… prayers I will continue to bring to Him. I do believe that the prayers of the righteous are heard and answered. I believe He does work miracles, unbelievable miracles that can only be attributed to His power and doing. When those miracles are witnessed they serve as a powerful testimony to His ultimate supremacy.
However, what about when those prayers aren’t answered in the way we ask? What happens when He doesn’t grant the person with miraculous healing? Does that diminish Him in the eyes of those who prayed for it or those who heard or knew of the prayer. It shouldn’t, but perhaps it might. Does that make Him any less God, because He didn’t do what we asked?
That’s where this prayer in Ephesian 3 comes into play. We all know that God is not always going to provide what we want or need in the way that we want. We all know, that despite our prayers, people we know, people we care about will go through difficult times. We ourselves, despite our prayers and the prayers of the righteous will still experience struggles, illness, and death. This prayer in Ephesians 3 is a gift we ask for to strengthen ourselves and others, so that when those times come, illness, pain and death, how we handle it and how others see us handle it is a direct reflection of the endless power and authority of our Father. It is a prayer that we be so filled up with the power of the Holy Spirit that no matter what is happening, good our bad, what the world sees from us is Jesus Christ, His power and His glory. It’s a prayer that we be so filled up that all we can focus on is doing the same for others so that they may experience it and do the same in turn.
Miracles are glorious, no doubt. They are powerful witness to God’s immeasurable power, love and devotion. My contention, so is how we reflect Jesus by the working of the Holy Spirit within us when things aren’t as we would like them to be, when “our” miracle isn’t provided. Have a blessed weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,