When I started writing about possible reasons for our faith not working, or our prayers not being answered; I really didn’t expect it to take this long. I was pretty sure we’d cover the reasons in one or two letters. Yet each week I feel the Holy Spirit prompt me to cover another truth from His Word that shows us how to practically activate our faith for our prayers to become effective.
If anything, I think we’ve come to realise how our faith in God and His Word is not based on a formula, but rather a living, growing, personal love relationship with the Lord. It’s something that continuously grows and increases and remains effective as we purposefully engage in fellowship with Him and meditate on His Word.
I want to say there are no short cuts to living in a place of absolute confidence of God’s continuous blessing and provision in every area of our lives. But that makes it sound like something we have to work really hard at, and at the end of the day take the credit for. Which isn’t right either is it?
So perhaps the best way I can describe what I believe to be the source of living in this confident, expectation of our faith always working, is by the word relationship.
When we choose to understand the character and ways of God, by spending quality time with Him and in His Word, we are guaranteed to receive rich benefits in return. When we seek Him as our source, we will certainly find Him to be that and so much more. The Word says He is the rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.
Which makes me think of a slight misconception that has crept into the church concerning using our faith to receive things in this life. It’s true the Word teaches us that we have the authority to decide and decree a thing, and it will be established for us (Job 22:28). The truth is, we aren’t told to decide and decree whatever we feel we want or need, we are to decide and decree what is in line with God’s will. If our confession and prayer is backed by God’s Word - which is His will for our lives - we can confidently be sure it will be established.
But even this type of confidence only comes from a meaningful relationship with the Lord. If we are content to know Him and walk in His ways only when it’s convenient for us, we limit ourselves to the full benefit of what it is to walk in a continuous, consistent confidence of knowing His provision and blessing in all things - regardless of the circumstances around us.
Mark 4:24 says, “...The measure[of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure[of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear..”. That word virtue means a quality of excellence. Psalms 138:8 says the Lord will perfect that which concerns me.
In other words, the measure we put in to knowing the Lord, will certainly determine the measure of confidence we have in Him and His ways. We understand from personal experience that His righteous principles are there for our benefit, and when we follow after them with all our hearts, we will see them keep us in a place of confident expectation!
One of these righteous principles I want to share with you today is directly related to our faith being activated, and our prayers been answered. It’s the principle of forgiveness!
Mark 11:25-26 speaks about the danger of harbouring un-forgiveness. If we are holding onto any disappointment or grudges in our hearts, the Bible makes it extremely clear that our prayers will not be answered.
As long as we brood on an injustice done, that un-forgiveness forms what the Bible calls a root of bitterness inside us.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favour and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it—.”
Bitterness is an extremely dangerous condition that can only be rooted out through repentance for not forgiving those who have either directly or indirectly wronged us. What do I mean by directly or indirectly?
If someone has wronged you, we call it a direct offence. An example of this is when someone says something hurtful to you, to harm you personally. However, if you have taken offence on behalf of someone else been wronged, then it’s an indirect offence. This is when someone hurt or wronged someone you know, and you are holding on to that anger towards them for doing it. Which is just as wrong and dangerous as a direct offence.
The Bible doesn’t tell us to be uncaring or unaffected by injustice, or wrong done. Of course we can be angry, it’s what we do with that anger that is crucial to our well being, and the well being of those around us.
Proverbs 19:18 warns us that indulging our angry resentments will result in ruin. Matthew 5:22 gives a strong warning against everyone who continues to be angry or harbours malice (enmity of heart) against another person. It speaks of how that escalated anger results in a heart filled with hatred that will not escape hell. Ruin, a hateful heart, and the fires of hell are reason enough to get rid of offence aren’t they?
What are we supposed to do with that anger and disappointment? We are to give it over to the Lord. We are to cast the burden of that care at His feet, giving Him the chance to heal our wounded souls and deal with the entire situation with justice and mercy.
There are 2 more reasons why we have to deal deliberately and swiftly with our anger or un-forgiveness towards others, releasing it to Jesus in exchange for His supernatural peace.
Firstly, a harboured offence results in bitterness of heart which poisons our physical bodies. Now I’m going to get a little technical here by quoting what actually happens inside our bodies when we have allowed bitterness in. I’m quoting portions of my explanation from Dr. Michelle Strydom’s book The Bible From A Medical Perspective Medicine From A Biblical Perspective.
There is an area of the brain that is responsible for converting everything that goes on in your thought life into a physical reaction. It’s called the hypothalamus. It has been medically proven that when we dwell on negative, bitter thoughts, the hypothalamus responds by producing an excess, or too much of a particular hormone called the CRF hormone.
Now in its normal state, this hormone is good and helps our bodies to deal with stressful situations. However, since it’s now released in large quantities, it’s chemical structure changes and it shifts from being a good hormone into a poisonous one - known as the chemical of dread. It’s this harmful chemical that is released into the bloodstream, and begins a toxic chain of events, all triggered through our refusal to let go of an offence and forgive.
Bitterness is a poisonous mindset that eats away at your soul like battery acid. It not only poisons the mind, it poisons the body with disease too.
The second reason we must get rid of un-forgiveness, is that it cuts ourselves off from receiving God’s grace and forgiveness (Matthew 6:15).
A heart that is contaminated by the poison of un-forgiveness becomes bitter and repels the Presence and power of God instead of embracing it. There is such danger for the child of God who refuses to submit to God’s Word and forgive. Please believe me when I say there is no wrong done to us, or anyone else that is worth our rejecting the love of God and losing our salvation.
So let’s quickly go over what we’ve learnt from this week’s letter. We learnt that the measure we put into growing our relationship with the Lord and His Word, is proportional to the measure of confidence we have in Him and His ways.
We also saw how forgiveness is a command for every believer - for the well being of our minds, bodies, and spiritual lives. Without it being an active principal in our lives, our faith is inoperable and our prayers cannot be answered.
Next week we’ll look at another key principle that will keep our faith engaged and prayers affective. Until then, push into your relationship with the Lord, delight yourself in Him and His ways, you’ll see the benefits far surpass your expectations!
All my love,