THE STAFF AND SWORD MINISTRY
MANIFESTING CHRIST THE HIDDEN INGREDIENT by Nancy-TONI Youngbrandt In recent months, we have received a few letters from individuals who are not seeing the answers to prayer that they believe they should. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers as to why some Christians receive answers more readily than others, and there are certainly a great many books written on the subect of prayer alone which can show the complexity of the issue. In praying about even writing an article on the subject, I am aware that I can only scratch the surface in this kind of format, as each situation may be different. However, there are few basic things that I could share upon reflection of my own walk and how prayer has been answered in my life. First of all is the realization that all prayer, effective prayer, begins and ends with faith that comes from God. Faith has to be there to pray to God to begin with and when God gives you faith, you will receive an answer. As it says in Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is the author AND finisher of our faith - it begins and comes to completion in Him. It is all too easy for our self-nature to take credit for choosing to believe on Jesus Christ and to accept His salvation and yet even that is actually instigated within by Jesus Christ Himself. Who do you think it was that gave us the inner awareness of our sin and its effects in our life? It was Christ, the Spirit of God. It was Christ reaching down and connecting with us on some unseen level that was the first faith in our life from God. As E.M. Bounds wrote,
"(faith) is the initial quality of the heart of any man who essays to talk to the unseen. He must, out of sheer helplessness, stretch forth hands of faith. He must believe, where he cannot prove." This begins every Christians walk in Christ as we take those first steps to believe on Him, repent for our sins and give our life over to Him ... and this is also when God's faith first operated in our lives. From here, we begin our walk in Christ and usually part of that walk is time spent in prayer - a time of communicating to God, seeking to connect further with Him and Jesus
MANIFESTING CHRIST â€” THE HIDDEN INGREDIENT February 2008
Christ. The truth is that the more one prays and seeks after God and Jesus, the more they are then imbued with faith, and the more faith one has received the more answers to prayer are seen. It is rather a round-about or circular connection: you need faith to pray; then when you pray, faith comes; and with faith comes answers to prayer which then strengthens your faith to pray even more, and so on. For me, one of the ways I would describe faith, in the sense that I am speaking of here, is that faith is an awareness, knowing or realization within that you have made a connection with God and He has touched you hack. Faith is not a feeling; is not being intellectually convinced; it is not even receiving a vision or revelation. Again, it is more of a knowing, a certainty within you, that God has heard and answered your prayer. And while we can see throughout Scripture the importance of faith in receiving answers to prayer, to me there is also another important ingredient which is present but not necessarily mentioned by name, and that is TRUST. Really trusting in Jesus to do the things He said He would; trusting in Jesus to meet our needs even when no provision seems to be in sight; and trusting in Jesus that He has our best interest at heart and the He knows best what we need, as well as, when, how and if to even answer our particular prayer. So now we add the hidden ingredient to receiving answers to prayer and we have these initial three: FAITH - PRAYER - TRUST. I say "initial" because this is just the beginning but it is an important foundation upon we can build a truly blessed life in Christ Jesus.
PRAYER Since we've talked a bit on faith already, let's talk some more about prayer. What is prayer? What does it mean to you? For some, prayer is rather like tying a message to a bird's leg and then releasing it, hoping that it will get to Heaven and that God will reply. One hopes that message got there, but you can never be sure that something didn't happen to that bird and your message along the way. For others, it might be more like calling up someone on the other side of the world but the connection is bad and the call is more one way â€” you can talk and they can hear you at the other end but you can't hear them back. There is static and the line is broken so you just give your message and hope they got it and do something about it, but you are unable to hear any reply they might give. For others still, they may be closer and the call is made to a loved one but it is still a bit distant. The connection gets broken up, there are interruptions or the calls are made few and far between. This relationship can be rather like one where the Father only hears from His child when he or she is in trouble or has a special need.
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PRAYER continued Then there is the actual face-to-face relationship prayers where a truly two-way connection is made. Here, more than words are exchanged: warmth, love, joy, good times, bad times, tears -- nothing is withheld and a bond is formed. This occurs when prayer, faith, trust and love become infused and God's Faith energizes the prayer to know it's been answered and responded to. To me, prayer is reaching out to God with all your heart. As Madame Guyon wrote, `` Prayer is the outpouring of your heart to Him." By adding that it is your heart that reaches out and not merely your head, you must realize that you must also desire and yearn for that which you are praying or you're not really praying at all. As a matter of fact, true prayer can move beyond mere words and can be presented in the spirit or heavenly realm as a picture, an idea, or a desire of the heart. Prayer can be distant and perfunctory or it can be personally involving and motivated â€” it's up to you. Madame Guyon wrote about prayer this way: "What is prayer? Prayer is a certain warmth of love. Ah, but more! Prayer is a melting! Prayer is a dissolving and an uplifting of the soul. This warmth of love, this melting, this dissolving and uplifting causes the soul to ascend to God. As the soul is melted, sweet fragrances begin to rise from it. These fragrances pour forth from a consuming fire of love ... and that love is in you. It is a consuming fire of love in your inmost being, a fire of love for God. Now we must ask the central question: How does the soul ascend to God? The soul ascends to God by giving up self; giving it up to the destroying power of divine love! Yes, giving up to the annihilating power of divine love! This giving up of self is essential, absolutely essential, if you are to plumb, experience, and continually dwell in the depths of Jesus Christ. It is only by the destruction and annihilation of self that you can pay homage to the sovereignty of God!" I also like what Francois Fenelon wrote in Talking with God. He wrote: "True prayer is simply another name for the love of God. Its excellence does not consist in the multitude of our words, for our Father knows what we have need before we ask Him. True prayer is that of the heart, and the heart prays only for what it desires. To pray, then. is to desire or long for, but desire what God would have us desire. He who asks, but not from the bottom of his heart, is mistaken in thinking he prays. Even though he spends days in reciting prayers in meditation or in forcing himself in religious exercises, he does not once truly pray if he really does not desire and yearn for the things he pretends to ask."
MANIFESTING CHRIST -- THE HIDDEN INGREDIENT February 2008
PRAYER continued I would just qualify these statements to say that it is normal to have the occasional day when we are more "into" what we are praying than other days. Some day we are filled with that desire and yearning for that which we are praying and others it might be more difficult â€” that is normal. And while by what Fenelon is saying, one could assume that if you can't pray with desire and yearning from the bottom of your heart every time you pray, maybe you shouldn't pray... I would say to keep praying anyway. Some days our soul can act like a child who is bored with what it is doing and so it would be easy to give in and not pray. But it is best for your soul to give into that feeling of boredom or do you set the example and have it pray anyway to keep up the discipline and ride out this temporary lack of enthusiasm? I would say the latter â€” keep up with your discipline, ride out this current lack of enthusiasm and pray anyway for prayer is more than emotion but an act of faith too. You see, while faith initially gives birth to prayer in the believer, it also "grows stronger,
strikes deeper, rises higher, in the struggles and wrestlings of mighty petitioning." (E.M. Bounds)
FAITH So now we come back to faith and its connection with prayer. I like what E. M. Bounds had to say on the subject. We wrote: "Faith is not an abstract belief in the Word of God, nor a mere mental credence, nor a simple assent of the understanding and will; nor is it a passive acceptance of facts, however sacred or thorough. Faith is an operation of God, a divine illumination, a holy energy implanted by the Word of God and the Spirit in the human soul spiritual, divine principle which takes of the supernatural and make it a thing apprehendable by the faculties of time and sense. Faith deals with God, and is conscious of God. It deals with the Lord Jesus Christ and sees in him a savior; it deals with God's Word, and lays hold of the truth; it deals with the Spirit of God, and is energized and inspired by its holy fire. God is the great objective of faith; for faith rests its whole weight on his Word. Faith is not an aimless act of the soul, but a looking to God and resting upon his promises. Just as love and hope have always an objective so, also, has faith. Faith is not believing just anything; it is believing God, resting in him, trusting his Word. ... Faith does not grow disheartened because prayer is not immediately honored; it takes God at his Word, lets him take what time he chooses in fulfilling his purposes, and in carrying on his work. There is bound to be much delay and long days of waiting for true faith, but faith accepts the conditions -- knows there will be delays in answering prayer, and regards such delays as times of testing, in the which, it is privileged to show its mettle, and the stern stuff of which it is made."
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FAITH continued In Scripture, faith and patience, and perseverance and diligence, all seem to go hand in hand. In Hebrews 11:6 it says: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligend seek Him. " Or in Titus 2:2- "... be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. " And in Hebrews 6:12 -
That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through
faith and patience inherit the p r omises. " There is even the example of an Angel being blocked for 21 days when trying to come in answer to a man's prayers. That man was Daniel, who was in mourning with fasting for three weeks when he finally had a vision of an Angel. In the Book of Daniel 10:12-13 the Angel explains: "Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before God, thy words were hears, and 1 am come for thy words. But the p r ince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days.." I share this because it is a good illustration of how there can be various, unseen reasons for a lack or delay to the answer of some of our prayers that we are just not privy to until the right time. We are, however, given the opportunity to find out if we truly have faith in God and His Word and Promises or if we secretly harbor doubt and fear. And, alas, we find out if we truly trust in Him or not.
TRUST This brings us to the "hidden ingredient" of trust in all of this. However, this is not merely a trust in the Word of God, or even the revelations of God, but a trust in the person of God, the person of Jesus Christ. E.M. Bounds said it best when he wrote: The background of prayer is trust. The whole issuance of Christ's ministry and work was dependent on implicit trust of His Father. The center of trust is God. Mountains of difficulties, and all other hindrances to prayer are moved out of the way by trust and his virile henchman, faith. When trust is perfect and without doubt, prayer is simply the outstretched hand, ready to receive.... Trust looks to receive the thing asked for - and gets it. Trust is not a belief that God can bless, that he will bless, but that he does bless, here and now. Trust always operates in the present time. Hope looks to the future. Trust looks to the present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. Trust receives what prayer acquires. So that what prayer needs, at all times, is abiding and abundant trust."
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TRUST continued To me, trust strengthens faith and faith strengthens trust, and both strengthen prayer. Likewise, the more time spent in prayer and abiding, the more trust is built and deepened, as is faith. These three literally feed and strengthen each other in a beautiful, blessed way. A great example of this is the story of Abraham and Isaac. In his case, Abraham no doubt had prayed for some time for a son and heir, and when he was up there in years and had probably let go of the hope for a son, God promises him a child. It says in Romans 4.13, 1721 this about Abraham and his faith.
"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith .. (As it is written, I have made thee father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickened the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope helieveth in hope, that he might become the father of man y nations, according to that which was spoken of nations was spoken, so shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither the deadness of Sarah s womb: He staggered not at the promise of - God through unbelief but was strong in with, giving the glory to God; And beingfullypersuaded that, what He promised, He was able to perform. This kind of faith and inner "persuasion" does not come without TRUST, and without a relationship upon which that trust is founded and built upon. Abraham's trust in God is even more evident later when he obeys God's command to sacrifice his son to Him. Yes, Abraham had faith in God, and the Bible says he had a healthy "fear of God" when he went to the altar with Isaac, but I also believe the hidden ingredient that enabled Abraham to be willing to carry out God's command was his deep trust in God. In all his years, Abraham, no doubt, saw God provide for his needs and bless him in many wonderful ways. Then God miraculously blessed him and Sarah with a son when it wasn't even a physical possibiIity in worldly terms. And since God so clearly has His hand on them that far, he must have believed and trusted that whatever God had in mind, it would be for the best -- even though by all appearances that wouldn't seem to be the case. How many of us today would he able to do what Abraham did at the command of God ? How many of us really trust in Him to the extent that we would sacrifice everything He has given us to do His Will??
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TRUST continued There are certainly quite a few Scriptures that remind us and exhort us to trust in Him. Here are a few examples to ponder in prayer: Proverbs 3:5 — "Trust in the Lord with all thine hea rt ." Job 13:15 -- "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him..."
Psalm 28:7 —"The Lord is my strength, and my shield, my hea rt trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him."
Psalm 40:4 - "Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust,..." Psalm 37:5 - " Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass."
Psalm 84:12 - " 0 Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in Thee." Psalm 118:8 - it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." Psalm 125:1 - "They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth for ever."
Jeremiah 17:5-7,14 - "Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusted in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose hea rt depa rteth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath (tract of open wasteland) in the dese rt , and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt and and not inhabited... Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord ^s.
TRUST — PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE The wonderful thing about God is His timelessness and His multi-dimensional Spirit for with God, He is the same in the past, in the present and in the future —to Him all time is one.
And, by His Spirit, there can be many dimensions to His creation and to His truth - each as valid and important as the rest. The same can be said even of trust. Take for example 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 where it says, "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us;"
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TRUST – PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE continued Here, we first see that we should not trust in ourselves because that only brings us death, but we rather should trust in God, who raises the dead and in doing so delivers us from death. But if you look closer, God not only delivers us from death in the past tense but in the present and future tenses as well. In other words, God has delivered us from death in that He sent His Son to pay the price for us so ifwe confess our sins and believe on Jesus Christ our soul is then saved. But it doesn't stop there. It then says that He "doth deliver" or, in other words, is delivering us as works out His salvation in our soul and mortal flesh. As Paul said, "I die daily" — so the work of Christ and that of His salvation working in us is an ongoing work as we are daily to be delivered of this body of sin and death. Then it goes onto say that He will y et deliver us – so there is a deliverance yet to come. This can be seen as the ultimate deliverance from death as when we die physically and go to Heaven. It could also speak of a yet deeper, closer walk with Jesus to where we manifest Him and His Life in our mortal flesh while still alive on this earth as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:11:: "For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that
the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." 1 share these Scriptures because I see the same could be said of trust – we have trusted in Jesus, we are to be trusting in Him and we are to continue to trust in Jesus in the future. In order to be a believer of Jesus Christ, we have at one point in time trusted in Him for our salvation, and that He paid the ultimate price for our sins. In the present tense, we should be daily looking to Jesus to continue to work His salvation in us, trusting in Him to give us victory over the power of sin in our daily lives. Likewise, we are to continue to trust in Jesus with our future as well; Jesus has even greater things in store for us as we grow in relationship with Him. Whether in this life or the next, trusting in God and Jesus Christ remains a vital part of receiving fully of God's deliverance for us, and His answers to prayer. Hopefully, through this sharing you can begin to see how trust, faith and prayer begin to round out the foundation upon which our relationship is to be built so that we all may experience the futness of God's plan for each of us, in every aspect of our lives. As with all things, I urge you to seek Jesus in prayer in all you do and open your heart so that you may lea rn to trust Him more and more ... for He is truly trustworthy. z^;t,^s C.^
Note: The quotes of E.M. Bounds were from the book entitled, The Complete Works of EM. Bounds on Prayer . Published by Baker Books, PO Box 6287 Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287. www.bakerbooks.com