When Jesus says: “Greater things will you do, than you have seen me do,” I drum up a mental picture of believers walking around making sick people well, poor people rich and sad people happy all with the simple prayer of faith. That perspective is perpetuated by reading the amazing exploits of the apostolic church after Pentecost. We see blind eyes opened and crippled people walk.
Most of the things we pray for can’t be measured. We pray for direction through confusing or stressful times. We pray for protection on those we love. But when we pray for the practical needs of others, we measure the value of prayer by its efficacy. Did we get what we prayed for? If I ask God to intervene in someone’s life, does it happen? If I pray for a sick person, are they healed?
I’ve seen it go both ways. I’ve been really shocked when God actually heals someone miraculously. I’ve been disappointed when my prayers seem to make no difference at all. Since the latter ends up being the most frequent version of that outcome, I don’t focus on praying for the sick. Apparently, I just don’t have the faith that the apostles did.
But then again, maybe prayer isn’t all about the appearance of success.
Most of us understand the code of a bar fight. You go to a bar with your buddy. For whatever reason, he’s targeted by some other guys for a fight. You are now in a fight too. It doesn’t matter if there are six of them and two of you. You don’t jump in because the odds are in your favour, or because you always win bar fights. You’re in the fight because your friend is in trouble. And being in the fight is the only way to preserve the friendship through that fight, even if you end up getting knocked around yourself. You fight to win, but you don’t always win the fight.
It’s like that for us when we pray for the needs of others. Very seldom is it a lack of faith that keeps us from praying for someone. It’s a lack of love. If someone I love is sick, I don’t let my “prayer stats” get in the way. I will pray. I will make a nuisance of myself to God until the very end of the fight.
Ask God to give you His love for the people you’re praying for. It will change your prayers.
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.