Have you ever prayed, using all of the faith contained within you, yet it seemed nothing changed? I certainly have. I thank God for every answer to prayer I've ever received. I've seen the Lord do amazing things through the power of prayer such as marriages put back together, people saved and delivered from alcohol and drugs, and many people healed of physical afflictions. I'm sure your testimony would be much the same, but still the question remains … what about those times when no answer seemed to come? Does God just choose to answer some prayers and not others?
The disciples of Jesus experienced unanswered prayer also. On one occasion they prayed earnestly for a man's lunatic son to be delivered from his affliction, but the young man was not cured. You can read the entire story in Mat 17:14-21. After their prayers had failed, Jesus commanded that the young man be brought to Him. Here is what happened:
Mat 17:1 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
Before going any farther, let's get one thing very straight in our minds. Jesus did nothing that was not the will of the Father. Jesus said that when we see Him … we are seeing the Father (John 14:9). What must we conclude? It was the will of the Father to heal that young man … EVEN WHEN THE DISCIPLES PRAYED FOR HIM! Think about what this means. We know that God is sovereign. We know that God is all-powerful and omnipotent. Yet we see from this passage that God was not able to perform His will in healing this young man when the disciples prayed for him. How is that possible? The disciples couldn't understand it either. They asked Jesus why the young man was not cured when they prayed. Notice their question … and the Lord's response;
Mat 17:19-21 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Religious people have a very difficult time with Jesus' answer. You'll hear them say things like, "God is all powerful. He does what He wants … when He wants … and nothing can stop Him from performing His perfect will." Sounds good, doesn't it? Yet, if that were so, then Jesus' response to the disciples makes no sense. We can plainly see that it WAS the will of God to heal the boy because the young man was healed when Jesus prayed. Jesus did nothing apart from the will of God. That means, something held back the will of God when the disciples prayed. Something was strong enough to hold back the hand of our sovereign, all-powerful God. What did Jesus say it was? UNBELIEF!
What is even more amazing is the fact that the disciples were unaware that they even had such strong unbelief within them. In their minds, they had prayed in full faith. No doubt they were astonished to learn they had unbelief within them in such great measure that it prevented a loving, saving, healing God from performing His will to deliver the young man from such terrible affliction. Talk about a subtle kind of unbelief! It is so strong it can stay God's hand, yet it is so subtle that we don't even know we have it within us.
Now let's reexamine our original question in the light of what we've discovered. The question is: Does God just choose to answer some prayers and not others? It definitely was God's will to heal this young man. We know that because He did it when Jesus prayed ("The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works"-John 14-10b).
What must we conclude? God didn't "choose not" to answer the disciple's prayer. He "could not" answer the disciple's prayer! Why couldn't He? Their unbelief prevented Him from doing so. Religion always says that God "can" do it, however He often "chooses" not to. Life always says that God "can" do it … and He "will." That is, if He can find a conduit that is free of unbelief!
Thank God, Jesus did not stop teaching when He answered the disciple's question. He went on to give us the solution to this dilemma when He said,
Mat 17:20b - … for verily I say unto you, IF YE HAVE FAITH AS A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
No matter how small our faith may be today, no matter how much unbelief we presently have within us, we can go from little faith to great faith if we learn HOW to have faith as a grain of mustard seed. We will delve further into what that means next month.
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
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