The above combination are a powerful team of spiritual actions. They are at the center of every great, every miraculous, and every victorious event in the Bible. Chances are that you may already know this, and may be asking why I am dedicating a whole bulletin article to it. I’ll tell you why: we may know about these things, but my observation is that we don’t practice them so well.
You see, we live in a culture that is strongly secular, entertainment oriented, very self/science-reliant, and not at all inclined to 1) give God credit for what happens, 2) seek his blessing for our needs, 3) operate on faith, 4) or get involved in things that aren’t “fun”. The outcome in our individual and sometimes our congregational lives is, in a nutshell, a sad lapse of prayer, faith, and work. The purpose of this brief encouragement is to put these three really important Christian missions back into the forefront of our lives as followers of Jesus.
Prayer—This facet of Christian victory and accomplishment must be mentioned first, because it is not just an empty obligation; this is the point at which God enters into the equation for success. It is in prayer that we petition the God of the universe, the God who is bigger than any giant we may face, more powerful than any foe, and the God with whom nothing is impossible—calling on Him to come to our aid. It is in prayer that we seek His empowerment, His help His blessing, and His protection. It is in God that we find the true key to a favorable outcome—not our abilities, our ideas, our research, our money, our technology, our IQ, or any other man-oriented thing. When we forget or neglect to pray, we leave out the indispensable power for maximum success and victory. Prayer is powerful because it calls upon the favor of the God who created the universe from nothing, parted the red Sea, held the sun still in the sky for a whole day, and redeemed our souls—none of them small tasks. Victory is always assured, when God is in the mix; and the faith-filled prayer of His faithful people brings Him into the equation.
Faith—And speaking of faith-filled prayer, faith is a critical factor in our praying. When I speak of faith here, I’m not talking about a vague feeling of optimism that something good could happen. Too often, I fear, our prayers are little more than last ditch efforts, hoping that maybe something good might come of it. But a faith-filled prayer is much more; Jesus defines it this way in Mark 11:24,
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”
This faith is something that prompts us to action (more on this later), to prepare and act as if what we say we believe has already happened. Isn’t this the path to Abraham inheriting the promises? God’s call and promise to Abraham was in Ur, but it required going to Canaan and waiting in faith until God’s time. Hannah, in deep and continual sorrow about being childless, prayed in faith and afterward “…ate, and her face was no longer sad,” as if God had granted her prayer. God dried up the Jordan for Israel—as soon as the priests put their feet in the swollen river. Peter walked on water—after he got out of the safety of the boat. It is not unusual for God to expect us to act in faith in relation to what we’re asking in prayer.
Work—Although God could accomplish everything on His own, He allows and expects us to do what we can. He knows how good the spiritual exercise is for us—much like our parents knew that chores were good for our physical well being, for building character, for benefitting the whole family, and for skill development. God will do what He does, but we must do what we can do. It amazes me sometimes that we think that evangelism could get done without ever personally telling anyone the Gospel…that our children can learn the truth of the Scriptures without us teaching them…that the church can be friendly without me greeting a single visitor…that Gospel meetings can be successful without me asking someone to come with me…that the sick could be encouraged without my visit…that the weak could come back to Christ without my attempt to win them back…etc. We need to do what we can do and let God do what He can do.
These three godly elements—together—are truly powerful keys to success as individual disciples and as a congregation of disciples. Are they all a robust part of your spiritual life, or are you trying limp along without one or more of these components of prayer, faith, and work? Put them all to work and let’s just see what extraordinary things God does for and with us!