We were in our second year of the ministry in Africa with 30 student missionaries committed to prayer, study of the word, fasting, and reaching the unreached. It was December and the money we expected to receive for support had already come in. There was nothing left. Our only vehicle, a 1994 Toyota van, was on its second engine and was broken down in the shop. This meant that there was no van for the school and not enough money for starting again in January. Maybe we needed to just shut it all down.
Rachelle and I went on a seven-day fast, seeking the Lord for direction. As I was pacing back and forth in my prayer time with a lot of doubt and worry and a lot of frustration with the lack of resources, the Lord rebuked me “do not be unbelieving, but believe!” Immediately what Jesus said to the disciples on the sea of Galilee came to mind, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith” (Mk. 4:40)? And what he said to Jairus who’s daughter had died, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mk. 5:36). So, I began to confess out loud my own unbelief and fervently ask God to do what he promised us he would do in Africa: raise up a missions movement and provide the massive amount of resources that would be needed to mobilize an army of laborers to the harvest fields.
On the seventh day, Rachelle and I broke the fast with prayer and dinner. Afterward, she went to check emails and came to me ecstatic with news that a random firm out of Texas had heard about our ministry through a friend and was donating $15,000 toward a vehicle. I was stunned. The next day another organization donated $6,000. Coming into January, we would have $21,000 to put toward a vehicle and open school! The amazing timing of this gift and the sheer randomness of where it came from gave us great confidence in the Lord. He was saying to us “Don’t give up! Have bold faith for miracles.”
Does God Want Us to Ask Him for Miracles?
And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mk. 11:22-25)
Notice that Jesus does not tell us to ask for what God wants, he tells us to ask for what we want. That may be offensive to say, but look closely, “Whoever says…what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” and, “whatever you ask…believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
I think most people are afraid of asking God for miracles. Prayer is prefaced with, “if this is your will God… then please do thus and such.” This is not how Jesus taught us to pray. He does not tell Jairus to be concerned with whether or not his daughter being brought back from the dead was the will of God. Rather, he tells him to be concerned with his unbelief, “do not fear, only believe!” Most of us are plagued with fear and unbelief, and we think we are bothering God when we ask him for something. Yet it is the opposite of this timid attitude that God is looking for.
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk. 11:5-13)
This passage shows that God is our Father, that he cares about our lives, and that Holy Spirit is active, ready to do great miracles among the children of God when they ask him to. The word impudence stands out here, it means; shameless, arrogant, lacking modesty, or cocky boldness according to Merriam-Webster. There is no room here for modest, timid requests to God. The Lord wants us to come to him with boldness and ask him to do wonders. He does not want us to act like we are bothering him! Instead, we should believe that we will receive the things we ask for and leave the rest to him.
Miracles do Three Things
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (Jn. 15:7-8)
Firstly, miracles glorify God. The purpose of miracles, especially in missions is to show that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zech. 4:6). Reaching the Muslim world can be an intimidating task. Islam, in every fine point of doctrine, is antithetical to the gospel and the average Muslim has a built-in resistance to it. The missionary to Muslims must learn that it is only by the miracle working power of God that there can be impact.
Just this week a young Muslim man was walking past our ministry center. Our friend was coming out of the center at the same time, so they ended up side by side walking down the rocky dusty road. My friend greeted him with a few words, and was surprised when the young man wanted to keep talking, “Please can you help me?” He said. “I want to know what it means to be a Christian.” He proceeded to explain that he has felt something drawing him every time he has walked past the center for the last six months. So my friend brought him over to our house and we shared the gospel with him. Right there and then he committed his life to Jesus. That is a miracle!
If we fail to believe God for miracles like this, then we will fail in our God-given assignments. The things God has called us to do in missions are beyond our power, so that when they are accomplished by miracles, God gets all the glory.
Secondly, miracles are a special kind of fruit called answered prayer. Healing, deliverance, salvation, financial breakthrough, these are the kind of fruit that work hardest to bring God praise. Jesus explains that the Father is glorified by fruit-bearing disciples but it is plain that it is not by the wonderful qualities of the disciples themselves but by his power working through those disciples who pray. This is why unceasing prayer must be at the heart of all our activities.
Thirdly, miracles show that we are real disciples of Christ. Bold faith which asks God for miracles and sees fruit is evidence of real Christianity. I do not believe in a Christianity void of the power of God. Paul says, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20). And it is by power that Paul was committed to fulfilling the great commission.
For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God. (Rom. 15:18-19)
You Have Not Because You Ask Not
Every believer is called to walk in bold faith that believes in a God of miracles. We are not to coast through life without God involved, leaning on our own strength. We need to have boldness for miracles. Consider James:
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (Jm. 4:2-3)
There is a qualification given here that was also given in our passage in Mark 11:25. This qualification is essentially saying that we must be walking with Christ. In Mark, Jesus says we must forgive and be forgiven in order to be heard. In the gospel of John, Jesus said “if you abide in me…ask whatever you wish.” And in James, it says that those who are living for the flesh should not expect to be answered. In short anyone outside of Christ cannot partake of this kind of faith-filled prayer and expect anything from the Lord.
But for those who are in Christ, we should heed the brother of our Lord, “you do not have, because you do not ask.” God is not calling us to second-guessing, shame-based prayer, he is calling us to confidence. To boldness. Ask God for breakthrough in your ministry or business. Ask God for the salvation of your family member. Ask God to heal the person in your neighborhood who is sick and without hope. If you do not ask you will not have. Miracles have been an amazing part of my walk with the Lord, and every breakthrough I have seen in the past gives me faith for the future.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 Jn. 5:14-15)
– If you struggle with doubt, or have questions concerning the compatibility of science and miracles, I highly recommend the book MIRACLES: WHAT THEY ARE, WHY THEY HAPPEN, AND HOW THEY CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE. by Eric Metaxas. This is an excellent resource on the topic of miracles and it’s a huge faith builder.
Amen and amen! Miracles are indeed a mark of disciples.