Monday, July 09, 2012

Under My Umbrella

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." -Jesus, Matthew 21:22

I gave the children's sermon in church this week.  It was all about faith - the idea that when we pray, we need to actually believe that God not only can but will do what we ask.  The illustration I gave to the children was the idea of praying for rain in the middle of a drought, as we are here in North Carolina, but then not carrying an umbrella around in expectation of the rain.  If we pray for rain, why aren't we preparing for it?

I was about halfway through studying the children's sermon on Saturday evening when I realized I was going to be preaching directly to myself.

How often do I pray for rain and then don't even carry my umbrella?

How often do I pray for a miracle but then I don't live with the expectation that God is going to do it?

I've often heard that old quote, "Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed" - and I hate it!  It's totally the opposite of faith.  The Bible says that God responds to our faith.  In fact, our lack of faith limits the power of God.  In the Gospel reading we read this week, Jesus is back in His home town, ready to preach and teach and heal, but no one believed He could perform miracles.  So He didn't.  "He could not do any miracles there [...] And He was amazed at their lack of faith." -Mark 6:5-6

It's when we actually believe that God can and will do it that miracles happen.  When Jesus performed miracles and healed people, what did He so often say?  "Your faith has made you well." (Mark 5:34, Luke 18:42).  Not "Oh, I felt like healing someone today, and lucky you, you're it!" or "Well, I guess I have nothing better to do, so here's some of God's power - enjoy!"  

Their faith brought about God's action.  Because of their belief, God responded in kind.

This evening, ironically, the sky threatened rain.  Even so, determined to get some exercise, I dragged my toy poodle around the two-mile hiking trail circling the lake where we live.  I usually have a walking buddy, but tonight I didn't, so God became my walking buddy. While we walked, I prayed.  My prayer came on gradually - so gradually that at first I wasn't even conscious of it - but three-quarters of the way around the lake, I was actually praying aloud.  (The people who heard me as they ran past either thought I was crazy or had a really small Bluetooth headset!)  In that moment, I prayed for a miracle.  I didn't beg, I didn't plead, I didn't cajole, I didn't say "if You feel like it, Lord."  No, I prayed.  I boldly approached the throne of grace, stood on the confidence of the name of Jesus granted to me in the Bible, and asked for a miracle because I believe it is God's will and I know what I am asking for is going to bring God an incredible amount of glory.

Now, I'm going to be living in expectation.  I asked for rain, so you'd better believe I'm going to be carrying my umbrella.