Our third definition of prayer is an obvious choice. When we pray, we are acting on faith that God will hear answer. Prayer is an action that we take, and the amount we pray, along with the fervency of our prayers, dictates exactly how much action we are willing to put into our praying. I believe God loves it when we really put a lot into praying. I have to admit that my prayer life is not where it should be in my mind. I am hopeful that doing this study again will re-energize my prayer life so that I am taking action when it is needed.
Let’s start in James 1:2-3 which says:
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
This verse shows us that there is a purpose for every trial. That is why we should consider it joy when these things come up. One of the biggest benefits of a trial is that they exercise our faith. Now, we all know in the natural world that exercise will make one stronger in whatever area they focus that exercising. If I want to be stronger in my legs, I will walk or run. That is what we do!
And we also know that practice makes perfect, right? If someone wants to learn a musical instrument, they will never do it if they don’t practice (unless God decides to perform a miracle for them). If I want to be a doctor, I will have to spend a lot of time studying. If I want to do sales, I must find new customers, and that means knocking on a lot of doors and perfecting my skills. No matter what I want to do, it will take persistence.
I have been in sales for over 35 years. My current position is an Independent agent for Aflac Insurance. When I started with Aflac, I needed to find my own customers. What this involved was going to businesses I knew or didn’t know and trying to get an appointment with the owner. One of the big advantages I had was that I knew people in over 500 businesses due to my previous sales experience. We learned a script that worked, and we customized it to our own style. Even with the terrific contact list I had and the rapport I had previously gained with these businesses, I still could only get an appointment with about 1 out of 15. When I started knocking on doors where I did not know anyone, that ratio went down. It took a lot of exercising my sales skills to become successful.
Faith is no different. The more we put it to work – the more we exercise it – the better we get at it. Putting our faith into action trough prayer helps us make it through those trials and tests that come our way. That I why we should be joyful n trials – they are the best means to exercise our faith! We see this truth throughout the bible. Trials come upon a person or someone they know, they put their faith in action through prayer, and their situation improves. Let’s look at some examples:
Abraham was worried abut his nephew Lot. The young man had chosen the lush valley that was around Sodom, and had been enticed to live in that wicked city. God revealed to Abraham that he was going to destroy Sodom. Abraham exercised his faith in conversational prayer with God. He kept asking for more and more mercy to be granted to Lot, and God honored Abrahams faith. He removed Lot from Sodom before it was destroyed. This story can be found in Genesis 18:16-33.
Another time, Abraham had caused a problem himself. It seemed he was afraid Abimelech the king would kill him and take his wife, so he told Abimelech Sara was his sister. Abimelech thought that was great and married Sara. God was quite displeased with this, so he made all of Abimelech’s other women barren. Upon seeing this, Abraham prayed to God, and God lifted their barrenness. (Genesis 20:17)
Moses interceded for the sins of Israel more than once. The most incredible one to me was in Exodus 32. Moses had been on the mountain with God for a long time, so the people enticed Aaron to make idols to worship. God was all set to destroy the whole nation and build a new nation starting with Moses. But Moses put his faith into action by praying to God, and the bible says “God repented of the evil he thought to do”.
Joshua was in the middle of a battle and wanted to finish it, but it was near the end of day. Joshua did the unthinkable – he asked God to extend the day so he could finish the fight. And God did so! He stopped the sun and moon in place for a day so Joshua would finish off his enemy. Now that’s a great exercise in faith! (Joshua 10:12-14)
Samson had been deceived and had lost his strength. They put his eyes out and ridiculed him. But in the end, Samson prayed to God that he could have his strength back one more time, and he pulled down the Philistine temple, killing over 1,000 of Israel’s enemies in one act. Supernatural strength through one simple prayer. (Judges 16:25-30)
Elijah prayed it would not rain, and it did not. Then he prayed it would rain, and it did. (James 5:17-18)
When Daniel was cast into the lion’s den, the king who cast him in actually prayed and fasted for him, and that prayer worked! (Daniel 6:16-20)
I could go on and on, but you get the point. Prayer – faith in action – gets God’s attention very time. The truth is that God rewards our faith. Hebrews 11:6 tells us:
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 diligently seek him.
Did you catch that – God rewards those that diligently seek Him. How do we seek Him – through active prayer! The Psalmist says in Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
The way I use my words with God are either praise or prayer. When we pray in faith, believing that He will reward that faith, God is pleased. We can make this Psalm a reality in our lives every day. I don’t know of anyone who comes to God with prayer because they don’t think it will work. That would be plain silly. That would be like turning the oven on to bake something and expecting it not to work! If it’s not going to work, why turn it on! If prayer is not going to work, why pray! That is why prayer is our faith taking action. And it will produce results!
One more verse I’d like to take you to is James 5:16 which states
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
I covered this verse in a post a few weeks ago that you can find HERE. When we put our whole heart into a prayer it takes that prayer to another level. This may be a spur of the minute prayer in which you reach deep down inside yourself and reach the throne of God, or it may be a prayer that you have prayed for someone many times, desiring God to move. Either way, if it is with fervency – with action in your spirit, it avails much. To me that means it moves God.
I do not believe that it means a miraculous healing will take place immediately, although it may. God is, and always will be, in charge of the timing of answers. He will bring things about in His time. When I came down with cancer, many people prayed earnestly and fervently for an immediate healing. And He could have done that – I have no doubt. But so much good has come out of this fight, and so much more will. God knew what He was doing. He always does!
Faith-in-action – that is what prayer is. Our words take our faith to God. Then He moves! What a great gift He has given us in this gift of prayer. The next, and last definition of prayer is my favorite one. I hope you’ll stay tuned!