What We Believe During and After We Pray
What we believe after we pray is just as important as what we believe while we pray.
Scripture Reading: Mark 11:20-26 (Also Acts 12:6-17; Matthew 7:7-11; James 5:16-18)
In Acts 12:6-17 we find the account of the infant church exposing its toddling level of faith when its primary leader, Peter, was thrown into prison in the wake of Stephen and James’ execution. Peter’s prospects didn’t look good either. A prayer meeting gathered at Mary’s house, the mother of a future history maker, John Mark. I’m sure there were many earnest, fervent, tearful appeals that ascended to heaven that night on behalf of Peter. Meanwhile, in prison, strapped between two guards, Peter is awakened by a bright light and a gentle tap on the shoulder by an angel. He is led out of prison to the prayer meeting, where he knocks on the door of the gate. Rhoda answers and is so excited that she leaves him there and announces it to the praying “unbelievers.” They deny her report and argue that Peter must be dead– she saw his angel. Peter had an easier time getting out of the
shackles, through the bars, past 2 guard posts and through the gate onto the street than he had getting into that prayer meeting of those who didn’t believe in what they were praying. Finally they relented and encountered the reality of what they could not imagine. We can be amused at the humanness of Luke’s candid account of the early church, but at least they didn’t stay there. Sad to say, too many members of a 2000-year-old church seem to have regressed to its former level of immature faith. Are we just as guilty of contradictory actions that belie our real attitude in praying?
The aforementioned John Mark recounts Peter’s remembrance of an incident when a tree gave the impression that it was bearing off-season fruit, but when a hungry Jesus came and found it barren, he spoke a curse upon it. The next day the disciples were surprised to find that Jesus’ words had a real affect on that tree– overnight that healthy-looking tree had withered and died from its very roots. When brought to his attention, Jesus matter-of-factly stated that any time our words are spoken with faith, by those very words (prayers, declarations, etc.) mountains can be tossed into the sea (Mark 11:20-26). The disciples had heard many words without faith before– and were accustomed to not seeing anything happen. Jesus exposed them to the reality of a faith that expects its words to affect the physical realities around them: food multiplying, diseases disappearing, broken bodies restored, demonically controlled persons released into right minds. When the disciples finally “got it” (that they, too, could in the name of Jesus transform the world of those around them) they begin to turn their world upside down– and then passed on that inheritance and responsibility to us today.
Do we pray, expecting that our words literally affect the issues we confront at their very roots (like roots, at first they may not be evident to us when we speak it)? Are we, like Jesus, undaunted when they become evident? Or do our words and actions after we pray insinuate that we really didn’t expect things to change? Have we used the power of our words after prayer to nullify the seed of the words spoken during our prayer with unbelief? May we live in the confident assurance of a good Father who will grant us that for which we ask, seek and knock (Matthew 7:7-11)! Like Elijah, may our prayer life prove to be effective (James 5:16-18).
- What areas am I affecting right now with my prayers and declarations “in Jesus’ name?”
- Has the Holy Spirit convicted me now of any areas where my actions or words have nullified the power of my prayer or declarations?
Declaration: As you pray today, make the following declaration…
I walk in continual thanksgiving of a God who is acting upon my prayers and declarations today. I know that my words, energized by faith, are released to affect change in the events and people around me. I renounce any double-mindedness. I refuse to curse and nullify through unbelieving declarations what I have initiated through my words in prayer. I maintain and speak my faith, expecting a great harvest in my life for Jesus!