One reason Christians don’t get answers to their prayers may be that they are only praying and not “speaking the word.”
In Matthew 8, Jesus commended a Roman centurion for his faith. Why? The centurion recognized authority when he saw it. He acknowledged Jesus’ authority over sickness and disease and he knew the enemy – disease in this case – would also.
He said to Jesus, “speak the word only and my servant will be healed.” So he did – Jesus said “Go, it will be done just as you believed it would.” And it was – “his servant was healed at that very hour.”
James 5:17-18 recounts the story of Elijah, Ahab, drought and rain. These verses talk about prayer and faith. But take look at the original story in I Kings chapters 17 and 18. This shows something unexpected: Elijah didn’t pray for God to stop the rain or to re-start it.
He himself spoke the words that stopped the rain, and three years later re-started it. He said to Ahab “As the Lord God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” (17:1) And there wasn’t.
Well then, did Elijah pray at all? Obviously he did, but I think his prayer went something like this: “Oh God, what can I do!” (About the evil king Ahab.)
God answered with a set of odd instructions: Go see Ahab. Speak to him about rain…
Odd or not, Elijah obeyed. Now, did it take a lot of faith to go tell King Ahab there would be no rain – or even dew – for several years, unless he himself, Elijah, said so?
I don’t know about a lot of faith, but it would sure take guts!
Yet James 5:17 says Elijah was a man just like us. Human, not superhuman. His faith was demonstrated by his obedience; by the words that he spoke.
Matthew 28:18-20 is the “Great Commission,” Jesus’ instructions to the apostles to make disciples of all nations. Not just converts – disciples. Students. Followers. Obeyers. And verse 19 is very specific: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
What does everything include? Look at Matthew 10, Mark 6 and Luke 9: (1) Preach the kingdom. (2) Heal the sick. (3) Raise the dead. (4) Cleanse the lepers. (5) Cast out demons.
Okay, how were they supposed to do all that? He had already showed them how. For three years they had been observing him do those things. Seventy disciples already had practice (Luke 10).
So they obeyed Jesus and followed his example in doing so.
No matter what else they did, when confronted with people in need they “spoke the word.” They did not ask God to do what Jesus had plainly told them to do. See these examples:
- Acts 3:6 – Peter spoke to the crippled man, commanding him to walk, and he did.
- Acts 9:34 – Peter spoke to the paralyzed man, commanding him to get up, and he did.
- Acts 9:40 – Peter spoke to the dead girl, commanding her to get up, and she did.
- Acts 13:11 – Paul spoke to the sorcerer, saying “you are going to be blind,” and he was.
- Acts 14:10 – Paul spoke to the lame man, commanding him to stand up, and he did.
- Acts 28:8 – Paul prayed first, then laid hands on the sick man and healed him.
Many extraordinary signs, wonders and miracles were done when the apostles and disciples obeyed Jesus. (Stephen – Acts 6:4, Paul and Barnabas – Acts 15:12.)
Now, we are instructed to pray and most of us have no problem with that – we do pray. But sometimes we only pray about situations when we should also “speak the word.”