It is a healthy position to respond to the challenges the Word of God presents. Jesus said: “You make void the Word of God by your traditions”, Mark 7:13. Do I? Am I stuck in a tradition that needs challenging in order to walk more closely with the Lord?
Let us consider the record of Peter in Acts 12. King Herod was persecuting the Church. He had killed the disciple, James, with the sword and imprisoned Peter. Meanwhile, the Church were making continual prayer for Peter’s deliverance. In answer to their prayers, the Lord sent the Angel of the Lord to supernaturally deliver Peter from his prison chains, prison guards, locked doors until he found himself in the street outside the prison. He thought he had seen a vision until the reality of his deliverance struck him. He had personally witnessed miracle upon miracle to expel him safely from the prison.
He proceeded to the home of Mary, John Mark’s mother, where many were gathered together praying for him. Peter knocked at the door of the gate and a young woman, Rhoda by name, came to see who was knocking. When she heard Peter’s voice she was so overcome with joy, she ran back and informed the gathering that Peter had arrived. They did not believe her and declared she was mad! Then they concluded it must be his angel. Peter continued to knock at the unanswered door and when they saw him, the record states they were astonished!…..Had they prayed with no expectancy?
The people who had witnessed the mighty power of Pentecost, (Acts 2), had been earnestly in prayer for Peter, but obviously had no expectation! They were astonished to witness Peter’s miraculous deliverance. They allowed their sense knowledge to take precedence over their spirit man. Tradition can dispel godly expectation.
The challenge is: how much expectancy do I have in my life, looking and expecting God to move? Surely it is a fearful thing to hear the words of Jesus apply to my traditions that need change: “You make void the Word of God through your traditions!”
Where is my expectation when I pray? Expect the unexpected!
God does not speak in riddles. “God is not the author of confusion”, 1 Corinthians 14: 33
The Holy Spirit of God cannot be put in a box of tradition, but is spontaneous. When we pray, it should be with an open mind of expectancy to see God move according to His thoughts, plans and purpose, not ours. Let us not harbour unbelief and be astonished when God moves in the supernatural, but give Him thanks, glory and honour for revealing His mighty arm. He rarely answers according to our thoughts, but never disappoints for His ways are much higher than ours, (Isaiah 55: 8-11). The great I AM is not a disappointment.
God’s word encourages us to pray: “….but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”, Philippians 4: 6
James warns us regarding wrong prayer requests: “You ask, and do not receive, because you ask amiss….” James 4: 3
1 John 5: 14-15 exhorts us “And this is the confidence we have in Him, that, if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know we have the petitions we desire of Him”. The key to all prayer lies here in asking according to His will. Many prayers go unanswered because God, in His wisdom, withholds because we do not pray with an open mind, but according to our will, not His. Let God be God in our prayer life!
James 1: 5-8 brings another aspect to prayer: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”.
One definition of faith is “belief and action”. If I pray in faith then an expectancy should accompany my prayer life.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end”. How wonderful! God has thoughts toward me with His expectation!…….His expected end! ……for me.
Let us not neglect the following verses to this scripture. It sums up His conditions: “And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart”, (verse 13).
Finally, what do I do when God is silent? There is a profound quote to consider:
“The Teacher is always silent when you are going through a test. He has to be because he has to see what you have learnt!”
When God is silent and I have searched my heart to see if I am harbouring baggage that needs repentance, (the first step), then I can have confidence in His unchanging love for me. In the silence I can still trust Him unwaveringly to bring me through the passage, the season of His silence. God cannot deny His word. “Being CONFIDENT of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you is faithful to complete it, to the day of Jesus Christ”, (Philippians 1:6). In the silence we can bow our understanding and sing with a trusting, thankful heart, “Great is Thy faithfulness”.
Psalm 62, a Psalm of David, he exhorts himself: “My soul, wait only upon God, for my EXPECTATION is from Him”, v.5.
Proverbs 23:18 encourages: “…….your expectation shall not be cut off”.
As we allow the Lord to renew our mind, the old traditions that have held us bound in comfort zones that need abandoning will have no further hold on us. Let us take hold of that which we have been apprehended for of Christ Jesus, (Philippians 3:12), expecting the unexpected!