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Praying And Belieivng

Encouraging Prayer / James Banks
The Truth Network Radio
January 14, 2023 12:00 pm

Praying And Belieivng

Encouraging Prayer / James Banks

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January 14, 2023 12:00 pm

James and Robby discuss the importance of trusting in God, even when our circumstances do not work out how we want them.

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This is Darren Kuhn with the Masculine Journey Podcast, where we search the ancient paths to find ways that God brings light into a dark world and helps set men free from the struggles that we all face on a day-to-day basis. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it.

Share it. But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. So, have you ever prayed to God about something and you really believed it would happen, but then it didn't? And after that, you don't know what to think or maybe even what to believe. Now, that's what we're going to be talking about today on Encouraging Prayer. Not just what to do when a prayer you really hoped would be answered wasn't answered in the way you would hope, but also, you know, really how to pray with faith to believe. This is such an important topic, because if we don't understand it, it can do our faith a lot of harm, Robbie. Probably all of us have known, you know, one person or another who's encountered a great loss, and they prayed and prayed about it and believed there'd be another outcome, and then there wasn't, and suddenly they find themselves angry with God, or even worse, questioning whether He's there at all.

You may not just know that person, you may be that person. And today, we want to speak gently about this, because it's such a tender topic. But the question we really want to go after is, what does it mean to pray with faith? I know that you've had some amazing answers to prayer in your life in that kind of situation, James, just like I have, but there are some prayers you're still waiting on, and I know I am, so what do you do today is to move beyond that and saying that God sometimes says yes, but sometimes no, and sometimes wait a while. That's right, we want to move beyond that, and I want to start with a story about this whole thing. From the life of one of the most gifted preachers in history, George Whitefield, Tim Keller in his book, just titled Prayer, writes about what happened to Whitefield and his wife, Elizabeth.

Listen to this. In late 1743, his first child, a son, was born to he and his wife, Elizabeth. Whitefield had a strong impression that God was telling him the child would grow up to also be a preacher of the everlasting gospel.

In view of this divine assurance, he gave his son the name John, after John the Baptist, whose mother was also named Elizabeth. When John Whitefield was born, George baptized his son before a large crowd and preached a sermon on the great works that God would do through his son. He knew that cynics were sneering at his prophecies, but he ignored them.

Then, at just four months old, his son died suddenly of a seizure. The Whitefields were, of course, grief-stricken, but George was particularly convicted about how wrong he had been to count his inward impulses and intuitions as being essentially equal to God's word. He realized he had led his congregation into the same disillusioning mistake. Whitefield had interpreted his own feelings, his understandable and powerful fatherly pride, enjoying his son and his hopes for him as God speaking to his heart. But long afterward, he wrote a wrenching prayer for himself that God would render this mistaken parent more cautious, more sober-minded, more experienced in Satan's devices, and consequently more useful in his future labors to the Church of God. The lesson here, Keller concludes, is not that God never guides our thoughts or prompts us to choose wise courses of action, but that we cannot be sure he is speaking to us unless we read it in the Scripture. Wow, I've never heard that story before, but it's still a familiar one, isn't it?

Yeah, it really is. I mean, as a pastor, that's one of the most heart-wrenching things that I have to deal with. Sometimes, you know, we could want something so badly that we confuse our feelings about it with God's will and just say something like, I believe it. I have faith it will happen.

How many hospital beds have I sat beside someone who later died where their spouse was saying that? And what's challenging about this is that when we come to God, we need to have faith in what we're asking for. It's important to pray with faith, but our faith needs to be placed in God most of all, not in the outcome of what will happen.

The challenge here is to not make the same mistake that Whitefield did. So, James, how do you look at verses like Matthew 1358, which says that in his hometown, Jesus didn't do many miracles because of a lack of faith, or James 1 says that basically when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because if you doubt, you won't receive anything from the Lord. You know, I think those are key verses, and I want to answer your question with another question, also from Scripture. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Father, if it is possible, allow this cup to pass from me, talking about the crucifixion, but then he goes on to say, But not your will, but mine. When he prayed that way, was he asking with faith?

Well, of course he was. But let's say someone else is praying that way. Some might question if they're really praying with faith because they're leaving open the possibility that their prayers aren't being answered the way they want, and some might call that doubt. Or what about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they told Nebuchadnezzar that God was able to save them from the fiery furnace, but even if he does not, they will not bow down. Don't you think that they had to have been praying about that?

Oh, I know I would be. So, you know, so what is James talking about when he says we shouldn't doubt? Well, I think he's talking about having faith in God again, not in the outcome, and that's very different.

That's what you see Jesus and Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego saying. What he's saying is look to Jesus, and I think that's so vital when it comes to praying with faith. We need to keep praising God and loving him and keeping our eyes on him, and of course absolutely believe that he's able to do anything, but not making that the deal breaker, you know? Because what it really means to pray with faith if we go full circle, I think, is Jesus didn't do many miracles in his hometown, not because they didn't believe in God.

I mean, we know historically there were a lot of very faithful, very traditional Jews in that region, but because they didn't believe in him. Our faith needs to be in him most of all. It can seem like a subtle thing to believe in God while you're believing for circumstances that you're praying for, but it really does come down to that, right? Believing that he could do anything, but even if he doesn't, keeping your faith in him as the most important thing of all. I love what it says in the 119 Psalm when David says, Lord, I know that thy judgments are right, and in faithfulness that was afflicted me.

Yeah, I mean, that's it. It's a way of clinging to him, saying, I trust you, even if you don't. And the ironic thing is, I think God is going to do more miracles when we have that kind of faith, because it honors him more. It's not all about what we want, as difficult and heart-rending as that may be, but it's about him. We turn our hearts to him. That's the kind of faith that really pleases him. Oh yeah, it makes me think of Abraham, right?

Abraham believed God, and the Bible tells us it's faith in him that matters most of all. So James, let's close today by, you know, praying with that kind of faith. All right, Father, we thank you. Thank you that you love us, that you are there. And Father, I especially pray for that person who's going through a challenging time where they want something so badly. Lord, I pray that you would be their heart's desire most of all, and Lord, just build faith in you, in that person, in your name. Amen. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website,, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-14 14:05:53 / 2023-01-14 14:09:41 / 4

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