How often does God give us the opportunity to be conduits of His power and grace and we refuse citing our empty hearts, tired heads or weak knees? Jesus tells us a story in Luke chapter 11 about a man in just such a predicament. His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus prays the most basic prayer, citing things like hunger, forgiveness, temptation and salvation as daily needs. Then He tells them a story. (These are my favorite parts!) He says a man is called upon at a very late hour and expected to meet a need. Apparently this man was the recipient of a gift in years past. Why else would another show up on his doorstep at midnight asking for bread? Apparently he had offered to meet a need, no matter when it was the need presented itself. So the man goes to a friend and asks for bread. Why? Because his own kitchen was empty.
How many times are we presented with a request only God can answer and we brush it off with “I’ll pray for you” or “if it’s God’s will.” We don’t mean either of those things. What is reality is we don’t have anything to offer and so we excuse ourselves.
I told Leonard Ravenhill’s story a couple of weeks ago. Here is one of his quotes. “If we today could rediscover the virtue in that Name, the victory in that Name, the violence in that Name, we could set this world alight for God. Most of us have enough grace to scrape through the day but we have nothing left over. We are conquerors but are not “more than conquerors. We can fight off the enemy but cannot take any prisoners. Ours is a defense action, not an attacking power.”
The man with the empty cupboard keeps knocking on the door of his friend who refuses to help. Jesus tells us he eventually gets what he asks for, not because of his friendship but because of his persistence. This is where he tells us to “Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.” In other words, there is great hope for the empty hearted. When we are faced with a need we cannot meet on our own—Oh God, present us with needs we cannot meet on our own!!—we do not have to give up or turn the seeker away with a trite phrase: “I’ll pray for you.” God can meet their need(s)! It may be difficult for you. You will have to swallow your pride. You may have to admit your emptiness, but you can be confident the Lord can meet the need. Ask Him! Seek Him! Knock on His door and expect Him to answer!
So many times in the Word we see Jesus followers exercising supernatural faith. “Rise and walk! Wake up! Come out” I love these faith commands, issued by men who knew only to obey Jesus. I wonder if they ever thought “What happens if this person doesn’t stand up or this demon doesn’t come out?” I know I think that. I think it often enough that I don’t say those things to people. The enemy has whispered in my ear long enough that I believe him. What about you?
How does it make you feel to know that we have so little faith or confidence in God’s ability to restore a paralyzed man’s legs that we would never be found saying “Stand upright on your feet.” The fact that we do not ask for this publically should shame us and be strong evidence of our bankrupt state before the Lord. We have enough faith to fight but not enough to rescue those who are dying all around us. No wonder revival remains a topic of conversation and not a visible reality among us.
Do you believe God has the ability to raise the dead? Then why don’t we ever speak to the cemetery filled with dead, incapacitated hearts and invite them to life? We must come to the point where our lack of boldness or fear of failure is eclipsed by our desire to see God work mightily in the lives of the men and women He’s placed around us and given us the joy of reaching. When will we grow so sick of our bankrupt lives and abandon it all for the sake of the Gospel? We cannot control the mind of the world. But if we do not open our mouths about the activity and invitation of the Lord FOR THEM, they will never have the opportunity to reject Him!
I pray for this reality among the members of the Body in southwest AR! May it be so, Lord. May it be so.