We have a son-in-law who is very handy and creative.
On one of their visits to Oregon, Dirk put a new floor in our kitchen. Our grandson Jashton was about three or four years old, and Dirk enlisted him to help. Jashton put on his miniature tool belt and got down on the floor beside his father. Dirk studied the floor and then turned to his son. “What do you think we ought to do first?” A bit later I heard him ask, “Where do you think we should put this nail?” and “How should we measure this?”
Did Dirk need Jashton’s help to complete the project? No. He could have done it very well on his own. But by involving his son, Dirk was teaching him how to approach a project, showing him he valued his opinion, and loving him enough to spend time with him.
I grew up with guilt. If my neighbor was going to come to know Christ I had to tell them about Jesus. If I didn’t, they wouldn’t come to believe, they would go to hell and it would be my fault. If the natives in Africa were going to learn about Jesus, I had to pray for the missionaries or go there myself and tell them. If I didn’t, they would never accept God’s forgiveness and be forever lost.
I suddenly realized that God does not need me but chooses to let me be a part of what He is doing in the world.
One day I read Tozer’s book Knowledge of the Holy and when I read the chapter on the self-sufficiency of God, my life changed. I suddenly realized that God does not need me. He is completely capable of carrying out his plans without me.
He can save my neighbor or reach the farthest person in Africa without me doing anything. But just like Dirk with Jashton, God chooses to let me be a part of what He is doing in the world.
How does he do that? Through prayer.
As I studied the Scriptures and looked at the life of Jesus, I noticed something. Jesus never walked up to a sick person and healed them without them first coming to him and asking for healing.
Four time in the gospels (Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:36 and 51, and Luke 18:41) Jesus asked the question, “What do you want Me to do for you?” I especially noted the story of the blind man in Luke 18 who followed Jesus shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”
The man was blind. Wasn’t it obvious what he needed? Yet Jesus still asked him the question, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Something else about Jesus’ healing jumped out at me from Mark 9. A man whose son was demon possessed came to the disciples and asked them to cast it out. They couldn’t.
Jesus came on the scene and the man explained the situation to Jesus and then said, (verses 22-24) “’But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!’ Jesus said to him, ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.’
Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’” Jesus then healed his son.
From studying these Scriptures and others I learned several things about prayer…
First, I must answer Jesus’ question as I pray. He asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The answer I give depends upon what I have faith that Jesus can do. I can ask safe things like, simply bless me or help me or be with me, but how do I know that He has answered?
One of the last big prayers we prayed was a year ago when, on our way home from Bible study, our car once again acted like it was falling apart. We prayed, “God, this car is not working right and we have a trip coming up to Nebraska for a wedding. Please give us a car.”
We prayed believing God COULD do it, because He is powerful and has all kinds of resources.
Next, we believed He could do it FOR US because He had given us cars a number of times before.
Next, we prayed believing He WOULD, for it was a need we had no power to fulfil on our own and we knew His love and care for us. Within hours, Dirk called and told us Tom Thompson had left his C-RV to us, a wonderful car with only sixteen thousand miles on it!
The way God answered and quickness of His answer was a complete surprise. Once when we needed a car, a family left the country for a year and loaned us their car. Once my father bought one and gave it to us. Once a fellow pastor sold us his pickup for twenty-eight cents! (There is a long story in that one!) Twice families from church gave us older cars. Once a man knocked on our door, a man I didn’t know, and handed me cash and told me God had told him to give it to us. It was just what we needed to get a car. We had no idea how God would answer or when He would, but in believing faith we asked for exactly what we needed.
The next thing I learned from these prayers…
The next thing I learned from these prayers is that even when I don’t have faith that God will answer, when I come to Him believing in Him and asking for that faith to believe, He gives it. I have often come to God and said, “Lord, I believe and if there is any unbelief in me, give me the faith I need.” At those times it is especially important to look at God and not at the circumstances around me.
I love the Hebrews passage David spoke about in the lesson for today from chapter 11. To come to God we must believe that He is—that means that He is exactly who He says He is—and equally, we must believe that He rewards us when we seek Him. Why ask if you don’t believe who He is? Why bother asking if you don’t believe He will answer you? He is and He rewards. That is why we pray.
Have you ever been willing, even wanting, to give something to your children, but you decided to wait until they asked, or at least expressed a desire to you that they wanted what you were willing to give? I think God is a lot like that. He has blessings He wants to pour out on us, but waits until we ask, because in asking we express our faith in Him and our knowledge that all gifts come from Him. I wonder how many things I have missed because I refused to ask.
We are so blessed that our God wants to fellowship with us, He wants to involve us in what He is doing in our lives and in the world, and He loves focusing His attention on us.
Practical Application Activities
Our key question for this session is What is different about prayer with a strong, awakened faith? After working on an activity in relation to this question, please let us know when you have completed an activity, and what you found meaningful in the exercise.
David and Julia Ewert | email@example.com
When inspired to do so, compose a prayer to share with the school that we can publish online with the blog. It can be in any form you choose (prose, poetry, music, picture, psalm, etc.).
Video Activity — Matthew 11 (esp., vv. 25-30)
[Click on the words “Matthew 11” above. The video cannot be embedded here.]
Please watch the video listed above and notice the how the ministry and emotions of Christ move Him toward prayer and an invitation to prayer (“Come to Me”).
How natural was it for Jesus to bow in prayer? Does it strike you as something that might have happened often?
How does Jesus illustrate the four characteristics of a strong, awakened prayer of faith?
- Birthed in the Spirit
- Overcomes doubt
- Holds a steady course, anticipating the best
- Testifies to God’s Presence
Definition Activity — Strong, Awakened Faith
Please try to describe the phrase “Strong, Awakened Faith” as you have witnessed it in your lifetime. It might be helpful to breakdown the phrase and take each word on its own.
If you need help getting started, the following Scriptures might be helpful in thinking this through:
Essay Review Activity – What Faith Is
Please read this essay on faith and after every paragraph beginning with the words “faith is,” stop and ask the following two questions:
- Is this true of my life? Identify how and when.
- How is this evident in my praying, or how can it become so?
What Faith Is, by Steve & Valerie Bell
What is faith? It is the recognition that God is with us and for us.
- Faith is the spotlight that shines into life’s darkest moments and shows the way through the seemingly impassable abyss. “Take courage. Be optimistic,” faith declares.
- Faith is the interior muscle that refuses to give up even when swamped by tears and discouragement. “Keep moving. Don’t quit. Don’t despair,” faith cheers.
- Faith is life’s sweetener. It is the midwife of hope, the “birther” of comfort. Faith reminds us: “There is meaning in your life. There’s a holy reason to everything that happens to you. You matter to God.”
- Faith is the crazy courage that moves the mountain that reason declares is unmovable. Faith gives the spirit wings and the soul empowerment to believe that mystery works beyond what is apparent. “You are more than body. You are intrinsically spiritual. You are eternally precious to God,” faith reminds us.
- Faith is the limitless spiritual resource when human reserves are depleted. It is the smile of the Spirit, the hug of God, the knowing beyond knowing. To live a life of faith, to experience life as a friend of God is to live the most privileged life of all. Faith transforms human giftedness into something more – it introduces the resources of God into a life.
That’s why Scripture describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV). This same text is translated in the New International Version, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In other words, faith or trust in God is foundational to a hopeful spiritual existence. Faith is the determining gift that makes the difference between a sustained life and a depleted life. Faith supersedes and influences all other gifts life has to offer a child. That’s why a faith-filled life is the worthiest dream a parent can hold for a well-loved child.
…We are talking about faith that shapes a life to God and His heart. Nothing less.
By Steve & Valerie Bell, Faith-Shaped Kids (Chicago: Moody Press ©2001), pp. 22-23, 31-32