During this 40 Days of Apostleship, we are looking at how to expand our faith from the faith of a disciple to the faith of an apostle. That means up-leveling your faith from believing in Jesus to believing like Jesus. My theory is those who believe like Jesus can do the kinds of things Jesus did.
Last week we looked at Jesus’ belief in divine partnership. This week, we explore a second of his beliefs: that his prayers had power.
Jesus’ Belief: Prayer Has Power
I have to believe that Jesus believed that his prayers had power. Consider the chutzpah it took for him to call forth a very dead Lazarus from the tomb. Yet, Jesus preceded this bold act with a prayer: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me.” (John 11:41-42a) Only after he prayed did Jesus cry out, “Lazarus! Come out!”
Not only did Jesus believe that his prayers had power, he absolutely believed that your prayers have power, too. Listen to this audacious advice from Jesus found in Mark 11:24 and elsewhere, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Whatever?! Yep, that’s what the scriptures say.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus says elsewhere in the Gospels, “if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:21-22).
Did you catch that? When you believe like Jesus, you can ask for whatever you want in prayer. No matter how outrageous. All it takes is faith and belief. But when doubt enters in, it can derail you. Somehow, you need to suspend disbelief and refocus on faith.
Soul Work: Allow Your Prayers to be Answered
Let me tell you how I visualize prayer working. I envision a constant conveyor belt of blessing and abundance that flows from God to us. You ask, God answers. In fact, the moment you ask for something, the answer to your prayer gets plopped on the divine conveyor belt and begins to make its way to you.
But what if, along the way, you second-guess your request or worry about your ability to handle the blessing? Let’s say you’re not sure you can integrate the new reality the answered prayer would bring. Then what?
These doubts—if felt strong enough and long enough—can slow down, stop or even reverse the conveyor belt of blessing. In other words, you can unintentionally work against your own prayers.
In order to allow your prayers to be answered, you have to weed out doubt. Begin to notice and name the doubts that may accompany your prayers. As you name them, send them on a different conveyor belt back to God. Then ask God to strengthen your faith and increase your belief as you refocus on joyfully receiving whatever you have asked for in prayer.
Embrace the Belief: Start Small
Several years ago, I began to experiment with believing like Jesus. When it came to the belief that my prayers had power, I decided to ask God for something small and inconsequential that wouldn’t trip the wires of self-doubt.
I asked God to have someone gift me with a mug. Then, I practiced believing that I had received the mug by visualizing the act of opening my hands and seeing a mug placed in them. I rehearsed the feeling of happiness that would accompany it. I did that for about a week, then I forgot about it.
One afternoon, three or four weeks later, the doorbell rang. I opened the front door and saw a man I didn’t recognize.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“I’m Willie,” he answered. “This mug is for you,” he said handing over a slightly misshapen blue ceramic coffee mug. “Well, for your husband actually. I made it for him after the last construction job we finished. It’s been sitting on the floor of my pick-up truck for months. I just never got around to stopping by. ‘Til today.”
I could hardly believe it. “Why, thank you,” I beamed, holding the mug in my hand. “You wouldn’t believe it, but this is just what I’ve been praying for.”
Apostolic Action: Build Your Faith
Now a coffee mug isn’t that big a deal. But believing like Jesus is. Master the art of believing without doubt and you can have a greater impact than you could ever imagine.
As you move from discipleship to apostleship, no doubt you will want to make a bigger ask of God than a mere mug. There are rights to wrong, loaves and fishes to multiply, and wounds to bind up. Considering the impact our prayers can have on the world today, believing that our prayers have power is critical to creating the just and compassionate society for which we long. Combining our prayers with action like Jesus did with Lazarus, can bring about results nothing short of miraculous.
So start small. Build your faith in your ability to ask and receive. Then visualize the conveyor belt delivering all kinds of answered prayers, and the delight you’ll feel when the doorbell rings.
Adapted from forthcoming book, Believe Like Jesus, © copyright 2020 Rebekah Simon-Peter