Seven Footsteps to Answered Prayer

Act It

“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)

Over the past weeks we have explored six footprints to answered prayer. We have looked at establishing the desire within our heart, have decided to commit accomplishing that desire, then we talked about seeking we look to the doors of opportunity that will be opened to us, receiving it as truth in our spirit, speaking of it because it is a reality in our spirit, seeing it with our spiritual eyes until we can see it with our physical eyes, and now we look at the last footprint acting upon what we have received.

There has been discussion throughout the ages about faith and works. The story has been told of Martin Luther, a leader in the protestant reformation that he did not care for the letter written by Jesus’ half-brother James about faith and works. The story is that one day in prayer Martin Luther came across Scripture written by the Prophet Habakkuk which said that the righteous will live by faith. “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Martin Luther’s position was that we are justified by faith only and not works. The Apostle Pau wrote in his letter to the Roman Church that the Christian is justified by faith. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

Martin Luther’s position is correct in that the Christian is justified by his faith. As Paul in his letter to the Romans pointed out Abraham’s faith in God was reckoned unto him as righteousness. The Christians faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord is by the same measure reckoned unto them as righteousness. God sees the Christian through the righteousness of His Son Jesus. Therefore, it is by our faith in Jesus that we are justified. “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)

Some will say there is a contradiction here between what the Apostle Paul is saying and what James is saying. “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24) That would be an incorrect assumption as James is teaching that our good works is a manifestation of our faith in Jesus. We are not saved by our works but through faith in Jesus. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) We are saved through faith but in opposition to Martin Luther’s position were the Anabaptist who taught that works were a necessary expression of faith.

This is in line with the teaching of James in that we are saved through faith but our faith in Jesus produces good works. The Christian walk of faith requires action. We are commanded by our Lord to “go” and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19) God gives the Christian the grace to accomplish this work. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) James is saying that if we have a true faith then we will produce good fruit through our works. Our works is a manifestation of our faith. “But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18)

All of the footprints we have planted thus far, desire, decision, seeking, receiving, speaking, and seeing will not work without faith and the last footprint acting upon our belief will not work without our faith. Our faith will produce our good work and therefore is the manifestation of our faith.

There are three ways that God works with us to accomplish the answers to our prayers. He works in us through us, and for us. The Christian life is a life in motion. If we have faith in Jesus but are not acting on our faith in Jesus then we are not in motion and our faith will appear as a dead faith. “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:17) By being in action God is able to take us from the place that we are to the place that He wants us to be. If we don’t cross over the Jordan then we will be as the Israelites and wander in the wilderness. By being in motion with God we will move from one glory to the greater glory. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The purpose of God was to restore man’s fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ. Fellowship with God is a partnership in accomplishing His will and purpose for our lives. Through the Holy Spirit God indwells within us and we must move with God. By our partnership with God we will see God move as we move and as we move God moves. As Christians, we are to be a people in action. “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” (Colossians 1:29)

Fear is an enemy to our faith. Fear will cause of to say it cannot be done, we cannot do it, and our actions will be futile. Fear will make us fall into the trap that we in our selves are not able to accomplish that which we desire. Fear is a tool of Satan that will rob us of our faith. Fear will blind us to the truth of God’s Word. “And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) In fear man will lie and steal not believing in faith that God can and will meet all their needs. By our action in faith God will supply all that we need to accomplish His will and purpose in our life.

Jesus told us in the gospel of Mark, “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.” (Mark 11:24) But this verse does not tell us how. Jesus told us in the gospel of John, “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.” (John 14:14) But this verse does not tell us when. But they do tell us to believe that we have them and therefore we should act in faith as if we do have them.

God is all knowing, all powerful and ever present and He is in control, and that includes time. All time is in the hands of God and in His time all will be accomplished according to His good pleasure. It is not for us to know, for it is not within our knowledge and wisdom to know the right and perfect time for events to take their place. God knows and it is our responsibility to act in faith upon what He has revealed to us in word and spirit that His will shall be done. “He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” (Acts 1:7)

Apart from God faith cannot exist as faith is a gift to us from God. Faith is the vital tool that enables us to act in our service to God. With faith we must also practice patience. We must not get ahead of the Lord but wait upon Him. “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14) Our faith deals with the things that are invisible but it is our patience that deals with time. For some of us, especially for me, patience is a hard attribute to acquire. It takes discipline, to acquire patience takes patience. We should never run ahead of the Lord, as Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane when he cut the ear off the guard. Things never work out if we get ahead of the path prepared by our Lord. “Jesus said follow Me.” We must learn a faithful patience. “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4)

Our impatience is like the driver behind you honking his horn in impatience. If we try to get ahead of God through our impatience then it is as if we are honking our horn at God. You know how you react when someone blows their horn at you, well you can imagine how God would feel. By our patience we are able to flow with God in our partnership with Him. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

The Answer to our prayer will come in God’s time, which will be the perfect time for us to receive it completely. Till then in our belief in God’s promise we must act in faith as a manifestation that we have that which He is about to give us. Our action will prove our faith and our faith must meet the size of our desire.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, April 12, 2015

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