I pray all the time, I don’t need to be in church or anywhere near one. I can be walking down the street, on a bus or the subway, in the supermarket, at the thrift store or the mall. I’ve laid hands on people outside of bars, in soup kitchens, in offices and on street corners. I talk to God all day long, and don’t take a step without asking His opinion of which way to go, but when He started to talk to me about prayer last night, He was talking about something completely new.The first church He ever sent me to was an Assemblies of God Spanish Pentecostal, and I learned how to pray there. But God teaches us how to pray wherever we go to church, and He taught me some things along the way that were things I needed to know. I’ve learned how to pray warfare prayers, to speak in tongues, to pray in the Spirit. But last night He was talking about something else.
There’s a song that I sang in the choir at that first church I attended. The choir Director had given me a solo, and it was a song I hadn’t ever heard before, but she said that when she heard it she knew it was for me. The song was “Encourage Yourself,” by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. “Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test. No matter how you feel, speak the Word and you will be healed. Speak over yourself, encourage yourself, in the Lord.” God brought that song back to me last night again. He’d been bringing it back from time to time over this past year, and last night He knew it was what I needed to hear. I listened to it online, and read some of the comments, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y6BHfaUUYo. It still amazes me that the choir Director thought of me when she heard the song because I’m nothing like the singer, but it made me understand something now that I didn’t know then – it doesn’t matter how you feel, it’s what’s inside of you that counts.There is a fierceness to my faith that I didn’t understand until the Lord started talking to me about it when I listened to that song again. It was that fierceness that the choir Director saw in me that connected me with that song in her mind. I had only been born again maybe two years at that time, but she saw it all the same. In 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, we are told that God gives to each of us special gifts through the Holy Spirit, gifts to help others and edify the church. Here it is in the New Living Translation, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another Spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.”
I’ve had the gift of faith since I was born again. It was something that God gave to me even before I knew what faith was, and when I was born again, it was already full blown into maturity. When I looked for the scriptural passage, I found this explanation of it on the website http://www.gotquestions.org/gift-of-faith.html. I’ll share a few lines here that made me smile because I always thought that everyone had this thing that I’ve learned over the years is an extraordinary gift of faith. “The gift of faith may be defined as the special gift whereby the Spirit provides Christians with extraordinary confidence in God’s promises, power and presence so they can take heroic stands for the future of God’s work in the church. The spiritual gift of faith is exhibited by one with a strong and unshakeable confidence in God, His Word, and His promises. Examples of people with the gift of faith are those listed in Hebrews chapter 11. This chapter, often called the “hall of faith,” describes those whose faith was extraordinary, enabling them to do extraordinary, superhuman things. Here we see Noah spending 120 years building a huge boat when, up to that time, rain was non-existent and Abraham believing he would father a child when his natural ability to do so had ended. Without the special anointing of faith as a gift from God, such things would have been impossible.”It is really second nature to me to trust in God’s promises and to hear His voice and believe His Word. It’s not that I don’t have times when I doubt, but when I open up my Bible, or start writing this blog, or ask Him to speak to me and give me a word of encouragement in any way possible, He always does. I always thought that was natural for people who were born again, but I’ve learned that it’s not. It made me smile to read that passage from the website because I don’t think of what I do as extraordinary or heroic. Sometimes I feel pretty foolish for believing in things that look like the end result will be completely different than what I’m saying. I wonder if Noah ever felt foolish, or Abraham. I wonder what they went through when they told people what God had spoken over their lives and those people laughed or acted like they felt sorry for them. I wonder what they felt like day after day when the promise of God didn’t seem to be appearing, and there was no break in the sunshine for Noah or any sign of life for Abraham’s promised child.
I guess I don’t really have to wonder, because that’s the life I live every day. There’s always a promise of God that no one else sees except for me. Sometimes it’s a Word He’s spoken over my life and sometimes it’s for someone or something else. It’s always the easiest for me when it’s for someone or something that doesn’t have to do with me, but I wonder what it must be like for those people I give a Word to. If they don’t have my faith, how could they possibly think what I’ve said could come true? I remember talking to someone about something he’d been worried about that I’d told him I’d pray for, and when I next saw him and things were terrific, I said, “That’s answered prayer!” He looked at me in surprise, I don’t really understand why – I said I’d pray and I did and things got much better. That’s what happens when we pray, and that’s what God started to talk to me about last night.With everything that I’ve been dealing with lately, there have been so many distractions that have kept me from focusing on the author and finisher of my faith. That’s Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). I just had to have a moment there because when I looked up where that scripture is, I thought it said 12:12. I was born again on December 12, 12:12, so I went ahead and looked up that scripture, “Therefore strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble.” Sounds to me like a word about encouraging yourself. Sounds like He’s speaking to me loud and clear. Thank you Lord Jesus for the gift of faith, thank you that I can encourage myself and allow you to encourage me.
How can I not have faith when He speaks like that? How can I not believe when He tells me so clearly how faithful He is? But I know there are people who don’t have that gift that He’s given me, that the Bible is just words and prayer may or may not be real. And so it’s my job to encourage you if you need encouragement, just as I sometimes need to encourage myself. That song ends, “As I minister to you, I minister to myself. Life can hurt you so, ‘til you feel there’s nothing left.” When you feel there’s nothing left, there is always still Jesus. It’s when we feel there’s nothing left that we can finally really pray. When we feel there’s nothing left, we don’t have to try to do it on our own any more. When we feel there’s nothing left, that’s the time when He can finally show us that He is everything.Blessings,