Hebrews 11:1 – Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
The Bible says that with faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains. However, many people claim to have faith, but never see any mountains move. The Bible claims that to each one is given a measure of faith, so everyone should have at least some amount of faith. So if we only need the amount of a mustard seed, and everyone has some, why is it so hard to see the mountain move?
Faith is expectation. It is not merely hope or a wish. God responds to our faith. Many times we get exactly what we expect, because God will not overcome our expectation to give us what we really want.
God will not overcome our expectation to give us what we want.
How many times have you prayed for something expecting that nothing will happen? Expecting that your prayers are falling on deaf ears? Or expecting that the sovereign God is going to do whatever He wants anyway? Sure we want Him to answer our prayer, but our expectation is that He won’t.
How many times have we prayed for someone who is sick expecting that they won’t get better? Expecting that they may actually get worse and sometimes even die? We pray asking God to heal. We want Him to heal. We desire to see healing. We hope earnestly that He will answer, but our expectation and theology is that things will not improve.
Both our theology and expectation are based upon our past experience. We pray with high hopes for a miracle, but we expect that nothing will happen. After all, we’ve prayed before. We know based upon past performance not to get our hopes too high, because God probably will not answer. This leads to fruitless prayers that really are more of a cathartic waste of time. We pray because He told us to. And for many, we realize that not praying produces the same results. So why pray in the first place? At the end of the day, won’t the sovereign God do whatever He sovereignly wills?
Yet, there’s a verse somewhere that reads something like: “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) So Jesus teaches that the whole point of prayer is that you would ask the Father for something and He would answer, in order that you would be full of joy. Somewhere along the way, we missed this vital point of prayer? It was meant to be a conversation. One where the Father speaks or acts in response to our petitions. And He wants to respond so that we can be filled with joy! Imagine praying and receiving an answer!
So what is the key? The key is that faith is expectation. We get exactly what we expect. Not what we merely want or hope for, but what we expect. God will rarely overcome our expectation to give us what we truly want. He responds to faith. It is our faith that moves the mountain.
If we want to know where our faith truly lies, then we must push past our hopes, dreams, desires, hopes and wishes. We must discover the underlying expectation. If we would be truly honest with ourselves, many times our expectations are diametrically and even diabolically opposed to what we are asking for. We don’t expect we will receive what we are asking for.
To discover where our faith lies, we must uncover our true expectations.
So, what if we started praying with the love and goodness of God as our only expectation? That at the very least, we expect that however God is going to respond, it will be good. Mary and Martha prayed to Jesus to heal their brother who was sick. The Bible makes a profound statement here. It says that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. However He was about to respond to this cry for help was going to be out of His great love for them. And then He waited. He let the situation not only go from bad to worse – but from sick to dead! He let a bad situation turn impossible, because He loved them and wanted to give them a greater gift. He wanted to reveal Himself as the resurrection and the life.
Many times we think God’s answer is the first response. We fail to remain in communication and relationship with Him when He doesn’t immediately answer our prayers. We say that He didn’t answer. We say it was God’s will. We grow weary in doing good, leave the field and never reap the harvest that God intended. We walk away hurt and bitter. We create theology to justify why God didn’t answer. We ignore verses like John 16:24, because Jesus definitely couldn’t have meant that if we ask, He would answer, so that our joy might be full.
We somehow believe that God is good in the midst of all the bad things He does. We believe that when the Bible says that His ways are higher than our ways, it means that God is an altogether different “good” father than earthly fathers; because if men were to treat their children the way we believe God treats us, they would be in prison.
We need to settle first and foremost that God is good. That it is His goodness and kindness that leads us to repentance. Not His judgement, but His goodness. And that God’s “good” is a better “good” than we can conceive or imagine. He is pure goodness. He is good, and what He does is good. He is good to all. Every good and perfect gift is from Him.
His goodness was revealed in the Son, and the Son revealed that it is the enemy of man who comes into our lives to steal, kill, and destroy. God is good. He is not in the business of stealing, killing, and destroying. He doesn’t give His children gifts that His Son gave His blood and body to remove. He is confident in His sovereignty. He believes that He can win with any hand that He is dealt, and He promises to work ALL THINGS together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
When we are convinced that God is good and that He loves us, we can approach His throne with confidence and let our requests be known. And this is the confidence that we have, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if He hears us, He will give us what we ask for. We know that however He is going to respond, it’s because He loves us and because He is good. It is His good pleasure to give us His kingdom which is righteousness, peace and joy.
At the very least, expect God’s goodness when you pray.
Faith is expectation. Expect that when you pray that God will respond in goodness. If you can’t expect the healing, if you can’t expect the breakthrough, at the very least expect His goodness.