This morning I began to pray in our usual time assigned for prayer. And in the ways of the Holy Spirit, that voice began to speak: “Your prayers are meant to bring about CHANGE in the lives of those for whom you pray! If your prayers come from the impulse of the Spirit of God, you should be sensing and even seeing change. You have been praying for weeks for ____________. Are you seeing change? Sure you are! He’s not the same! but do you take courage to know that, through your praying, God has seen fit to hear your own prayer and alter the life of another person? Isn’t that incredible! To think that your conversation with God has totally changed the course of another human life?”
This was God’s answer to a troubling question I had put to Him several weeks before: “Well, Lord, are you ready to hear this kind of prayer again this morning?” I believe the Lord put that question into my heart to show me that my praying had become perfunctory…just a sort of recitation. But this morning He assured me that my petitions were meant to change the course of life for those for whom I prayed! And then He showed me, “I want you to hear what I am saying about prayer, and then to share it with My people.” So here I am writing this letter to you.
First, God wants us to utilize the GIFT of FAITH for the benefit of others. And its most beautiful use, its most powerful use, is in real substantive prayer; prayer that, in and of itself, has a force, a power to bring action from the triune Godhead to alter circumstances that are not pleasing to the Father. You may well ask, “Why doesn’t He just go ahead and do it without somebody asking?” I think the answer is two-fold: first, He wants us to be involved! We are meant to be KINGS and PRIESTS. Secondly, He has put the on/off switch within our reach. He is the powerhouse, but we have control of the switch. We cannot just flip the switch with our hand (or our tongue). It’s more than just an act. It is an act of our will which we exercise out of the FAITH He gave to all.
When we begin to pray, we need to reach down to our gut and bring into action that gift which we have stored up in our spirit’s warehouse. The old King James Version [of the Bible] says, “Faith is the substance (the raw materials) of things hoped for” (my comments added). Now, hope is DESIRE – with an expectation of receiving what we desire.
So, first, we desire, we expect, we HOPE for change. “Lord, I hope, I desire this ill person to be well; Lord, I hope, I desire salvation for my child; Lord, I desire and hope for all the needs of my brother to be met with abundance; and so I put my trust in You. I exercise the muscles, the raw materials, the SPIRITUAL ENERGY called FAITH and speak to You with expectation of Your agreement.
When God made this world and put man in it, He meant it to be heaven-like. Because of our disobedience it isn’t like heaven, but God didn’t change His plans. He still desires to have His purpose for His place and this people to be fulfilled. So one of the ways He has taught us to pray is, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Now, when we pray that prayer, do we really believe conditions of this earth might become like heaven? What’s heaven like? there is no sickness there; there are no demons there; there are no needy persons in heaven; no work of the devil. “Father, Thy will be done here, just as it is there.” Is that what you really believe Jesus wanted us to pray? I believe that I am hearing that Jesus wants to have the same conditions here on earth as there in heaven, AND that we can have it by believing and asking. But do we believe it will happen when we say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? The chances are that we believe, “Someday…, it will somehow come about, but we have trouble with the condition of NOW!….
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation“, Number 36 (February 1984).