I know that God will give you whatever you ask him - John 11:22
That was Martha to Jesus, when Lazarus had died. We all know what came next. God really did give Jesus whatever He asked for. Wouldn't it be amazing to have that same authority and access that Jesus had, to ask for anything of God, and have Him listen to us!
Oh, hang on... isn't that what we do have?
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. - 1 John 5:14-15
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive - Matt 21:22
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it - John 14:14
Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you - John 15:7
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours - Mark 11:24
...I think we get the picture.
Ok, well, I've asked for lots of things... but where are they? If I can ask, if God hears me & if anything I ask in Jesus name will be done... why does it so often seem like nothing happens.
If God is the one "who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (eph 3:20) - why does it seem even less than I ask or imagine happens?
If healing the sick and more is mean to be a part of life for those who believe (Mark 16:17-18), and I am meant to do even greater works than Jesus did one earth (John 14:12)... where are these great things?
How can it be true that I have, through Jesus, the same authority in prayer that raised Lazarus from the dead?
Maybe it is because I am not the body of Jesus. We are. We are the church - together we are the body. Together we bring Jesus to the world. Alone, maybe I'm just kind of like part of Jesus' fingernail. I need the rest of the finger, the hand, the arm, which needs to be connected to the shoulder, which is attached to a healthy torso, which is supported on strong legs...
You get the picture.
Now, don't get me wrong. There would have been a whole lot of power even in just Jesus' finger nail. Praying alone doesn't mean God doesn't hear you or your prayers don't work. He does, and they do.
But alone our spiritual life is never going to be as full and alive as when we are connected the fully functioning body. When the church seeks unity and spiritual growth and maturity together, when we see health restored to the life of the church, I believe we will see greater power in the prayers of Christians, both collectively and individually.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them - Matt 18:20
And this is a good thing! We need each other. We were never meant to carry this power or authority alone. God knows how much we benefit in seen and unseen ways from relying on, serving, praying with, praying for and worshiping with each other.
If we want the same power and authority and results from our prayers as Jesus had, we need to come together as one body and do what Jesus did.
And what did he do?
- He prayed - a lot. He was always taking time away to spend it with God. Both together with others and when we are alone, we need to take this time and spend it with God. Jesus knew the Father heard Him and knew His voice intimately.
- He was moved by compassion. We ask and do not receive when we ask with the wrong motives. (James 4:3) We want to spend it on ourselves. But Jesus asked because He was moved with compassion for the needs and suffering of others. Jesus wept! When need to open our hearts to love others as He did, from deep down inside. (And we definitely need each other for that - we cannot pour out love when we do not receive His love, and one huge way that happens is through others.)
- And what did Jesus do with his power and authority? He humbled himself as a servant, to not condemn the world but to save it. As a body, we need to do the same. We need to worry less about what the world is doing wrong, and start giving out this transforming love through our actions towards lost, oppressed and hurting people.
As this intimate prayer, compassion and servanthood begins to increase in the body, the Church, I believe we will also see an increasing in the power and effectiveness of our prayers to see miracles, to heal and to set people free!!