Tonight I was preparing for class. The topic for this weeks lesson is about unanswered prayers. In this lesson it states that not everyone will be healed in this life, but we will be given new bodies during the Rapture. In thinking of these things two verses came to mind – John 14:12-14 and Matthew 17:19-20. I hear them used often about the power we have within us, which seems contradictory to unanswered prayers.
In John 14:12-14 Jesus is responding to Philip who asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus reprimands Philip and goes on to say, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!“ Verses 13 and 14 tell us of an amazing power we have available to use through Jesus. These verses state that if we ask for anything in Jesus’ name, we will receive. Wouldn’t “anything” include divine healing?
In Matthew 17:19-20 Jesus is angry with the disciples because they could not cast a demon out of a young boy. The disciple ask Him why they couldn’t cast out the demon and Jesus responds, “You don’t have enough faith… I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Does this mean, if we lack faith that we will lack authority over our illnesses? I have known a pastor who passionately dedicated his life to Christ only to die petitioning God to save him from cancer. As well, it also states that if we have even a small amount of faith we will be able to do great things, like move a mountain.
On one hand we have these two proclamations made by Jesus that basically say all we need to do is ask in His name and we will receive, and if we have faith we have authority over everything.
So why then can’t we all be healed when we ask in Jesus’ name, or faithfully pray for healing?
Let’s look at these verses in context. In John 14:12 Jesus states that anyone who believes in Him will do the same work He has done, and that if the disciple do these works they will do even greater things. What are these works? Well, they are not just the miracles. It also includes spreading the Good News about salvation.
So, Jesus seems to be telling us that if we spread the Gospel we will be empowered to do great things, and that if we ask in His name He will provide. Why? Because as we work hard to spread the Gospel, we will need provisions including signs and wonders.
Is it enough to do His work that we will have access to the provisions we need? Jesus says in verse 10, “…The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. 11Believe me when I say I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.“ There are a two things that come to mind when I read this. One, Jesus made Himself available to the Father, and two, our hearts must be in what we do.
“If I speak with tongues of men and angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophesy, and know all the mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing” — 1 Corinthians 13:1-2
I am not stating that if we do all these things – abandon ourselves and give our lives totally to God and do His work of spreading the Gospel – that we will unequivocally receive all we ask for, including healing, or that if we do none of these things that we don’t have a chance. In John 14:12-14, when taken in context, Jesus is reassuring His disciples, which we are too, that as they do His work with their hearts He will make sure they have the provisions they need. So, we should not take it for granted that if we speak these words while praying we should “proclaim it and claim it.”
In Matthew 17:14 Jesus, Paul, John and James come down from the mountain and join the disciples whom were spreading the Good News and healing people. So, right here we see that the disciples were doing His works… well, as best as their faith allowed. The common thread between these two verse is doing Jesus’ work – sharing the Good News.
The proclamations Jesus makes in these verse seem to be reserved for those people who are ready to abandon all things to do God’s will on earth when this power is needed. Not to say God won’t grant miracles anytime He wants. He is God and He can do whatever He wants, but we should not be critical of scripture when we use it in prayer and our prayers are not answered. Ultimately, God will heal when it is in His plans to heal, and we have to understand that His decisions are not our business, and He not obligated to reveal His decisions to us. It is not even about us having faith in His ultimate wisdom. It is knowing He is God, and we are not. Therefore, as He does and does not do, regardless, it is right for us. That is all the logic we need so that we can be O.K.with whatever He decides.
When I think about what it means to do Gods work, a friend of mine comes to mind. He left his country with $200 in his pocket and airline tickets for himself and his family. He came to the USA because he had a calling on his heart. It is worth mentioning that he was once a Muslim and he left his faith for Christianity. He told me that decision alone almost cost him his life. When he came to the USA things unfolded for him and his family. Places to live, free college so he could finish his divinity degree, a car, and ways to feed his family were supplied to my friend when he needed them. His testimony is evidence of how God will supply our needs once we step out on faith.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalms 119:105)