I was raised in a Bible-fearing, charismatic, Pentecostal church where “Word-of-Faith” preaching/teaching was a fairly common thing. I really did not even know that there were any other interpretations of scripture other than: Pray harder, believe more, and God will move mountains! Now, I won’t act like my churches growing up were totally ‘out there’. There was some balance that was offered in the preaching to keep it from being heretical. We understood that God’s will takes precedence over our selfish desires, but also, their teaching was more subtle. They taught that, God wants us to pray for these things in our life. He wants to see us prosper, so most of the time, God’s will is going to be for us to pray for the JOB, or for the SCHOLARSHIP, or the miraculous HEALING, or for the PAY RAISE.
Growing up and reading the Word more independently for myself, I saw some of the error in that kind of reasoning. I believe that God’s will may very well be for us to receive those good things and to use them to continue to glorify His name and make His name Holy. Yes. But I also believe that God’s will may well be to teach us something: maybe perseverance, maybe contentment, maybe humility, by NOT giving us those things we are asking for. I learned that sometimes God says no and that’s okay.
This concept was made even more clear to me this week while watching a YouTube video from Pastor Mike Winger. He tackled one of the most popular verses from “name-it and claim-it” teaching and I watched to hear what he had to say on the topic. If you don’t know, Pastor Mike Winger runs a ministry called Bible Thinker where he encourages people to “think and live Biblically” and examine everything through the whole of scripture – using all of the context in the Word of God to fully grasp what God would want for us to learn on a said topic or doctrine. I find his ministry very helpful as I study the Bible, so I was intrigued when I saw that he was going to be addressing this issue of Word of Faith preaching. (I’ve linked the video at the bottom of this post so you can watch it too if you are interested.)
After watching his video, a couple of things really started making sense to me.
First, that the size of faith that is required (aka ‘Mustard Seed’ faith – Matthew 17:20) for us to receive the answer to prayer is not meant to seem like an impossible task to achieve. I grew up in an environment where I was constantly trying to grow my faith, stretch my faith, etc. in the hopes of becoming a more fervent prayer warrior. I learned that the more faith we have, the more God can do in our lives. Of course, we as believers need to be growing in faith daily and understanding more fully, just how BIG and just how in control God is. However, that mustard seed sized faith is meant to illustrate just how small of the job of answering prayer is ours. The job of getting prayers answered is all God’s, and as long as we have just enough faith to believe that God will answer prayer according to His will, He will do just that. Even the smallest amount of faith in God’s omnipotence is what is needed to see God work in our life.
Second, when God chooses not to answer prayer, THAT is when you really need to have faith. Wow, that is something which sounds so obvious to me now, but I hadn’t really thought about it that way until now. The great measure of faith that is required is more prevalent when God chooses to say, “No” to our request, than when He chooses to say, “Yes.” When we don’t receive that healing, we may be discouraged, or maybe question why God isn’t doing what we know He is capable of doing, but the faith required at that moment is for us to know that God has a reason for everything and it is within His will that things play out the way that they are playing out. That suffering that we feel, whether it be a physical suffering or an emotional suffering, that is just as important a spiritual discipline to learn as faith.
There are things that I’ve been praying about for a long time. There were times that I’ve thought, “God I know that you want what’s best for me and I know that you have a plan for my life. This thing will help with that plan, God, I just know that it will.” But knowing that God’s plan is perfect, and that God’s sovereign plan will come about as it should, I have to learn that the confused one isn’t God, but it’s me. My will can’t supersede God’s will, and my prayers won’t be answered at this moment, no matter how much faith I think that I have, if what I’m praying for isn’t in the will of God. So the faith that I have to muster now, is this: The faith to know that God intends for me to live as I’m living now, without this answered prayer, and that I must rely on Him and have faith that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13) If God’s will does allow for that answered prayer in the future, then I know that I had faith enough to persevere through the suffering and hopefully wait patiently enough for God’s timing and not my own.
I don’t know if this is helpful for anyone else out there, but it certainly was helpful to me this week. I get so excited about learning the truth of God’s Word and I hope that my take-aways from this lesson can help guide you towards God’s truth for your life.
(This is the video that I referenced in the post)