Prayer and Faith

I have a book that is The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer.  It is an outstanding book on the subject of prayer.  Bounds was an American author, attorney and member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South clergy.   Bounds wrote 9 books, 7 of which deal with this issue of prayer. He was a man known as a prayer warrior and his words on prayer are challenging, inspiring and they are also convicting.  One of his books, The Necessity of Prayer, starts off with a chapter entitled, “Prayer and Faith” and in the first few paragraphs there are a couple of quotes that I want to share, and then elaborate a little on these quotes.  The first, “Faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake for us, and nothing is impossible with God.”  The second, “Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world.  Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God.” Both of those quotes are words that I believe with all my heart and yet sadly, like too many Christians, I don’t take them seriously enough, because if I did, if I REALLY did I would pray more and with much more fervency.   Have you ever really thought about faith and prayer in the context of that first quote?  Again, “Faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake for us, and nothing is impossible with God.”  I want to remind you again that Jesus told us that faith that was the size of a mustard seed was enough to move mountains.  So I want you to know that this quote from Bounds isn’t talking only about people who have some kind of “gigantic” faith, or limited only to people who are known as people of “great” faith.  Faith is nothing more than believing that God can do what we are asking.
I know many of us struggle with that concept maybe partly at least because we want to know the will of God.  I don’t want to make light of this but I believe the more that we pray, the more time that we spend in the presence of God, the more God will reveal His will to us.  And when we know the will of God, and we can, then we can pray with confidence because Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).  “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).  One more, “This is the confidence we have before him:  If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).  (All of these quotes are from the Christian Standard Bible translation.)  That is pretty heady stuff.
I know that you know that I’m NOT advocating asking God for frivolous or extravagant personal wants and wishes; I’m talking about praying “inside” the will of God.  But how do we know His will?  Well, again, I know that if you are spending time with God, real, intimate, personal time with God that He will show you His will and then you can pray with confidence.  You don’t have to worry, you have the promises of the Word of God and of Jesus Himself.
I’m just going to give one example here, 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish  but all to come to repentance.”  I believe that all of us are praying for someone that does not know Christ as their Savior to come to the place where they see and admit their sin, repent and come to find God’s forgiveness.  We KNOW that this is God’s will and so we can pray with utter confidence that we are praying in God’s will.  So let me encourage you to go back up on the page and read again the promises that are there from John’s gospel and his first letter.
And here again is the second quote, “Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world.  Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God.”  This one is a little harder for us – do you really believe that faith and prayer move God?  Be honest right now because God is the only One who truly knows your heart on this.  Do you really believe that God hears your prayers, knows your heart and that your prayers and your faith can move Him?  I do believe that and I want to challenge you to not only believe it but to begin to act, actually to being to pray on that!
Is  your faith growing or is it declining?  Does your faith depend upon God or upon what you believe God ought to do?  That is an important distinction here.  Does you faith depend upon God and on God alone?  Or is your lack of faith because God didn’t answer a prayer for you the way that you wanted Him to or expected Him to?  I want to urge you to change your focus if that is the case.  I want to urge you to simply trust God and leave your need with Him.  I’m not telling you NOT TO prayer; I’m not telling you NOT TO ask God; I’m telling you to ask God, perhaps you need to do it every single day, to ask God and then to leave it with Him.  Some people would say then that that isn’t faith if we continue to ask God, that we aren’t ‘expressing” or that we aren’t “living” our faith.  But I’ll tell you right now that I don’t believe that one little bit, and here’s why.  Matthew 7:7-8, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened to  you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  What am I talking about?  In the original language those words, “ask, seek and knock” mean “keep on asking . . . keep on seeking . . . keep on knocking . . .”
And I’m just going to leave that with you . . . keep on asking . . . keep on seeking . . . keep on knocking . . . keep on asking . . . keep on seeking . . . keep on knocking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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