After service on Sunday I was engaged in conversation with one of our congregants when his wife came over and joined us. I had just finished a sermon on prayer where I challenged the people to pray communally and even instantaneously. My friends’ wife’s hand is crippled and has been since an accident she had as a child, and she is in obvious pain. Noticing how sore her hand looked a thought crossed my mind: this is a test.
At Jesus’ baptism God the Father declared, “This is my Son”, but on the heels of that declaration Jesus was led out into the wilderness where the tempter challenged God’s declaration: “If you are God’s Son…” That’s how I felt. In the sanctuary I spoke on prayer, now in the fellowship hall not 20 minutes later I felt the tempter challenging, “If you believe all of that crap you just preached…” I did. I do! So I asked, with her husband present, if I could pray for her hand.
With her affirmation we placed our hands on her and began to pray for healing and for the pain to go away. Then after we finished praying the husband said to me: “We’re not believing for a miracle.” The tempter was at work again. (And I almost fell off my chair.)
You see, the primary thrust of my sermon was a challenge to the congregants to enter a paradigm shift with me; to think differently about prayer. “It’s often said,” I exclaimed, “’do you believe in the power of prayer?’ But I want to suggest today that that is the wrong question. The question isn’t ‘is there power in prayer?’ but ‘is God who he said he is and did/does God do what he said he did/does.” In other words, is God creator of the universe (which means he can pretty much do anything except that which is philosophically impossible) and are we in covenant relationship with him because of his sacrifice on the cross.
After my friend finished expounding on all of his reasons why they were not believing for a miracle, all of which I sat and listened to patiently, I finally said, “All I know is that God is the creator of the universe and we are his children”. I told him that we believe for a miracle because we believe that God is who he said he is and that God does what he said he does. At this point my friend affirmed that they believe God is able and they are open to one if God so chooses, but that they are just not believing or looking for one. I think a lot of people are not “believing for a miracle” for fear of being let down. “I believe in slow healing” or “I believe in doctors”. Yes, I agree with both, but I also believe in outright miracles. I think the fear that people have in “believing for a miracle” (a phrase I am about to qualify) is rooted in:
1. the old paradigm of thinking of everything as being written on stone in some meticulously foreordained fashion
2. and of looking at miracles as something we must believe in
I challenged the congregants to enter a paradigm shift with me. The paradigm shift looks like this:
Because God is who he said he is (creator of the universe) and did/does what he said he did/does (redeemed us and creation)…
1. We are his children in relationship with him. When we pray we can move God to action meaning that not everything is written on stone, or if it is, God has the eraser and is sometimes moved by the prayers of his children to change direction.
2. The issue is no longer “believing for a miracle”, but believing that God is the creator of the universe and that we are his children who can move him in prayer (see point 1).
So I believe that when we prayer for a miracle, it is not the miracle that we need to be believing in, it is God and our relationship with him. Period. We should then leave the miracle in Gods capable hands. When people “believe for a miracle” they have placed their faith in the wrong thing. When people say they do “not believe for a miracle” they are revealing the all too common fear that grips many Christians, a fear that God is going to let them down.