Their daughter was dead. A heartbroken mother and father had just watched their daughter take her dying breath. Her body was still. No longer did it vibrate with her infectious laughter. No longer did her smile brighten the room. Her life was gone, leaving only a decaying, empty shell behind.
Then Jesus and a few disciples entered the room. He announced that she was only sleeping. Suddenly, her lifeless gray body began to show signs of life. Pink roses began to bloom in the color of her cheeks. Her chest rose and fell with each new breath. She opened her eyes and cried “Mommy! Daddy!” Her parents collapsed on her bed with the joy of her new life. They embraced her with a joy equal in intensity to their grief of just moments earlier. Her eyes sparkled again. She was back!! (Story found in Luke 8.)
Today, we read about miracles likes these and wonder why we don’t see them happen anymore…why we don’t have the “praying power” that the apostles and early Christians had. There are many reasons why we don’t see answers to prayers. Maybe we harbor a known sin. Maybe we refuse to forgive someone who has wronged us. Maybe we simply ask for the wrong thing. I’d like to focus this blog on another reason…our unbelief.
Some teachers explain this dearth of miracles by saying that since we now have the whole Bible, we really don’t need to see these miracles anymore to believe. They tell us not to get our doctrine from the book of Acts—that it’s a history book. Those explanations make sense until you look at verses like these:
- “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 NLT
- “Listen to Me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.” Mark 11:24 NLT
- “As yet you have not asked for anything in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your hearts may be filled with gladness.” John 16:24 NLT
- “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12 NLT
Do you see a pattern?? Jesus promised ALL His followers—not just His first apostles—that they would receive answers to their prayers IF THEY BELIEVE. Are we not getting prayers answered simply because we don’t believe? How many blessings have we missed because of our lack of faith?
Does this mean that Jesus is a celestial genie who gives us everything we want if we just follow a formula? No. He is God—the Creator of the universe—who has a plan beyond our understanding. Am I promoting a prosperity gospel? No. God is less concerned with our material comfort than with our spiritual health and growth. He is free to say “no”…but we don’t give Him the opportunity to say “yes” if we don’t ask. (James 4:2)
Mark 9 records the healing of a boy who was possessed by evil spirits. The disciples were unable to help the boy, so the boy’s father brought him to Jesus. He said…
‘“Do something if you can.”
‘“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
‘The father instantly replied, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!”’ (NLT)
Jesus then performed a dramatic healing and deliverance for this boy. The disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast out this demon. “Jesus replied, ‘This kind can be cast out only by prayer.’” (NLT)
The boy’s father alternated between belief and unbelief. Because he recognized that his faith needed help, he asked Jesus to help his belief win over unbelief. Jesus wants to do the same for us. He wants us to believe that He will answer our prayers. He wants us to know that He WANTS to answer our prayers.
Several months ago, I started reading about modern-day miracles. Between that reading and the miracles we have seen in our own family over the last ten years, I finally began to see that God’s Kingdom is the same now as it was in the first century church. God hasn’t changed. He still makes Himself manifest through answered prayers and miracles, as well as through His Word.
After the miracle at Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter informed the gathering crowd, “…What you see this morning was predicted centuries ago by the prophet Joel: ’In the last days, God said, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit upon all my servants, men and women alike, and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below…’” (NLT)
We are now nearly 2000 years past the fulfillment of this prophecy about the last times. If those were the “last days”, are not these times even more qualified to be called the “last days”? If so, then this promise of answered prayer and supernatural interventions still applies!
I challenge you to think about these passages. Don’t let your faith be compromised by the unbelief of some “experts”. Let the Word of God be your guide. Let God speak into your heart. Ask Him to reveal the truth to you. Ask him to increase your faith.
Please share your own answered prayers in the comments below.
Let’s help each other grow in faith!