This is Part 3, of a 3 part Teaching series on Prayer and Faith.
With discussion around Fish and Chips, Sweet and Sour Sauce and Gloves hands, Andy B does his usual and takes ordinary, every day objects and situations, and helps us dig deeper into the basics of how Faith and Prayer work together.
With a very strong reminder, and warning - from the book of James - about why we need both Faith and Prayer, Andy B encourages us to all to get on our knees more, to learn to know Jesus better.
And, just like Fish and Chips or Sweet and Sour Sauce, Faith and Prayer complement each other perfectly.
Faith and Prayer isn't something we can choose to have, or not. James makes that very clear. But when we embrace the need to use both, with each other, we'll get closer to God.
Faith and Prayer requires some action from us. We simply can not have one without the other, or use either - or both - without them leading to action.
And those actions will always leave us pushing outside our comfort zones.
But what a reward we have in heaven. And what a reason to give God all we have and to be used, by Him, to extend His kingdom here on earth.
If you want the PowerPoint slides Andy was using, click here for a PDF version.
So this is our 3rd part as we look at Faith and Prayer.
And, er, we've looked at What is Faith? We've looked at What is Prayer? But now we're going to bring all of that together.
We've said that faith isn't something that we simply have - we don't simply have 'a' faith. We have faith in God because of who He is. But that faith isn't something we just have - it's something that has to be turning into action. If we have faith, that doesn't do anything, we do not have a relationship with God. It's that strong in Scripture.
So faith is something that we have, as we are walking with Jesus, as we are learning to be more like God, we exercise our faith by doing things.
For example, we as a family prayed for God to teach us faith - the kind of prayer God loves, I imagine. And we sold our house.
Lots of people said, 'oh you, stupid, people, you've come off the property ladder, you'll never get back on it yet, you're irresponsible? What about your family and the future?'
We prayed for God to teach us faith, so we sold our house. And we invested it into business. We put £40,000 in.
We finished the business after about 2 years. We had £60,000 of debt; recession hit; we closed the business.
At a human level, all of those people, those Job's comforters - and we met many - they were right.
But here's the thing they didn't see, because they'd abandoned our family - because we didn't do what they wanted us to do (does this sound familiar to what Job went through - go and read the book of Job).
In the process of that business, we managed to stop a lap dancing club. How? Well it wasn't us personally, although it kind of was. Erm, God put us in a place; we were willing to have faith in Jesus Christ; we exercised that faith - by selling our house, putting it into a business. That business grew, hugely. God blessed it, richly. We. went into a much bigger shop. The recession hit - bank[s] pulled our overdraft.
That second shop was supposed to be the restaurant to a lap dancing club. Because of our faith, action, activity, I actually got hold of the local paper - who did an article on the issues of lap dancing clubs. Our landlord actually read that article, and what happened? He pulled the plug.
The Council couldn't stop it. Churches had given up praying. But we, and a few people, were faithfully saying 'God we are going to faithfully, actively do something for you'.
We put ourselves in the firing line and got a lot of local abuse for that. But as a result of doing all that, we had an amazing time of blessing.
We didn't have money, we had debt. That's, that's the opposite of the blessing that we like to think of. But, actually, as a result of all that debt, that's when the really good blessing-part of faith, comes in. 'Cos what we found was, as we're prayerfully walking forwards, biblically checking with other people, we had gifts of food - and this was just before Christmas. We had two small children. We had gifts of food. We had gifts of Sellotape and wrapping paper - so we could wrap up presents that people had gifted to us. We had free wrapped stuff in case we were too tired. We had money through the door. We had potatoes. When I say money we had like £50, £100; we had the rent paid for a month.
That was faith in action. I don't say that we look at what we did. I'm saying we had faith and God was there to meet us on the other side.
Faith isn't doing what we have the ability to do! Faith is going beyond our human ability, trusting that we're doing something for God 'cos He has supernatural ability to take our little offering, and carry on.
Loads of people said 'wow, you've got such faith Andy and Jo. You, you're pressing forward to the goal of heaven, and you're doing all this stuff for God, and you, you, you don't care about the future - in a good way - and you're just, you're just faithful. And how do you do it? You know, such amazing big strides in faith and…'.
To be honest, we were white knuckling it most of the way. We were, we were screaming inside. We were, we were shuffling forwards - towards the goal, knowing that any moment we are going to fall off the edge of the precipice, and potentially fall too are doom! But because we'd gone about it in the right heart, in the right context - God wants our heart -because we'd gone forward in the right context, it isn't just that God caught us, God met us.
Faith isn't just hanging on and having a look.
Faith is actually letting go, and letting God carry you to where He wants you to go, to be the people that He wants you to be. That's faith! And there's loads more examples of that.
Prayer! Where does prayer fall into that? Well the more we pray, the more we get like Jesus, the more our hearts become aligned to God, the more able we are easily using our faith - because we have more confidence in our relationship with Jesus.
He doesn't change. We Do.
Fish and chips. Sweet and sour sauce. Hand in glove. These are things that work really, really well together.
Fish and chips perhaps might be a British thing.
Erm, sweet n sour sauce is lots of different nations, around the world. But, these, these are things that work together. They complement one another.
Fish with chips in the UK is what you do. You go to the seaside, you have fish and chips, it's just perfect!
The hand and a glove. Little bit more obvious - you put a glove on a hand and it fits perfectly. They work well, they complement one another. They're complementary to one another.
We see that throughout scripture, about how things work together for God' good, for God's Kingdom, not for ours.
But without an active faith in God, we cannot pray in any meaningful way.
Without prayer we cannot have faith. You simply can't have one without the other, 'cos if you have faith and that means you're walking with God, and if you have prayer, you're talking to God. Well, if you're talking to God, then you're exercising faith because you're believing and trusting - you can't see.
You can see the evidence of it. Quite often off heard this, we don't see the wind. We don't see the wind, we see the effects of the wind. We see the trees, erm being rustled around,. we hear the noise of the leaves, and the, and the whole tree moves because of the wind.
Well, it's even more that that! As, as a Christian of more than 30 years now, I have faith in Christ because so many times I've prayerfully gone to Him. So many times He's met our needs as a family.
Anybody can have faith.
Anybody can pray.
But we cannot be followers of Jesus Christ, unless we are praying frequently, and trusting in God, and having an active faith - and believing that God has got plans for us.
Romans chapter 5 verses 1 through 5 - forgive me while I read this, I can't memorise scripture very well.
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance; endurance produces character; and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts, [throughout], through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Now I've been saying that through parts 1, 2 and now into part 3 - of Faith and Prayer. But here's the thing, and I love this, in this piece of scripture - Romans 5 chapters 1 through 5, suffering produces endurance.
When we lost all of our our business and we had no hope, it changed our characters because we had a choice to have faith in God, or not. We faced £60,000 of debt. We faced bailiffs at the door. We faced the mockery, and scorn, of people who were watching. 'Oh, you see, we told you you were foolish.'
It wasn't very pleasant, so we got on our knees and got closer to God.
In times of desperation. Is much easier to say 'God, where are you?'
But that character leads onto us having hope, and it's a good circle. The more we work for God, and work out for God, and try to get nearer to God - the more we're gonna get closer to Him, the more our faith increases, the easier prayer will become.
Faith and prayer. They go together beautifully. Well why? Because when we pray we are talking to the true One, Creator God. That prayer builds our faith. That faith in who we're talking to builds our prayer life.
They work together.
If you don't have faith and you are not praying regularly, James tells us - in the most blunt of ways, as James is wonderful for - if we don't have faith, actively working, and we're not praying, we are not walking with Jesus Christ.
I've met many Christians across the way who, erm, simply do not work out in faith. They have a faith. They go to church on a Sunday - 'well I'm a Christian.'
Well, no you're not if you're not actually actively working out your faith. Now there's loads of caveats I'm going to add now.
I said to the boys, if you're trying to look at somebody - we're looking at the fruit in someone's life - are they, are they really working for Christ? There are seasons!
And this is really, really important - when we look at someone's life, we might see somebody 'oh, there's no faith, they're not praying. yeah, see, they haven't got faith.'
There are seasons in life, when that's not going to be obvious.
I can say that as I've been through various good and bad seasons in my life.
There are times when you'd look at me, you would probably think is he really walking with Jesus? I am but I'm so broken inside you won't see much that's really helping you to understand who I am.
So this is what I've said to my boys. Watch someone for six months, or a year,. And over those 6 months you're going to get lots of different parts of who they are. And over those 6 months of a year, 12 months of a year and different parts of who they are you're gonna start to get a picture of what that person is.
We have seasons. But if you never see fruit from someone, well are they really walking with Jesus?
But if you see a season you think, well, snapshot, 'oh that's not, that's not a good person, they're…'
Let's be careful. We make judgements about what we're looking at.
Erm, I, I do some't called Andy B 2 Minute Videos, and I take just random stuff from life that happens, occasions, and I, I try and show how it can be helpful to us - with Scripture - and how it can apply.
I did one, really recently. Out for a mountain bike ride. Nearly coming home, nearly there. I've gotta turn right at a roundabout. I've indicated. Motorbike ahead of me has stopped. I've got right away. I carry on around the roundabout, he starts shouting and screaming at me, in the most horrible of language, about how disgusting and stupid I am, because I haven't indicated.
I had been indicating - that's why all the cars behind me were waiting, and he'd seen me indicating, or at least I thought he'd seen me indicating. But he was riding with his helmet, - the front - propped open. That's illegal in the UK. That's not a helmet at that point. Erm, but he was riding like that, and of course, it's, it's just in front of his eyes, so it's obscuring his vision.
So he's screaming at me for being a, you know, a rubbish whatever - I'm a biker, I'm a trucker, and I've got 15, 20 years professional experience behind me. I've done all that stuff. But because his helmet's propped up, he couldn't see me. He made a snap judgement, because he saw me not indicating. I had indicated, otherwise why would he have stopped?
The reason he stopped is because I was indicating, but he was so angry and full of his own self-importance and judgmentalism he took a snapshot of life and decided what I was.
Let's not be doing that!
Prayer and faith, means we walk for God, we work for God. We work with God. Not so that we can be amazing, but so that God, through us, can do amazing things.
We're reminded, in scripture, that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Well, Christ can only strengthen us to do things, 1, that he wants us to do, 2, that are biblically foundational - that they're actually in the bible, 3, that He desires, 4, things that aren't going to take us away from God. He's not going to ask us to do those things. That's another scriptural principle. I could go on.
Whenever you're going to step out in prayer. Whenever you're gonna step out in faith - they go hand in hand. Don't try and step out in faith without prayer. And don't pray without faith, it's meaningless.
So let's have faith. Let's pray. Let's trust in God. Let's build that relationship with Him and remember that faith and prayer have to work together; if you're not exercising your faith and you're not exercising your prayer life, you cannot be walking with God. That's the message from James.
That doesn't mean to say that we don't have bad days. It doesn't mean to say that if you haven't prayed for a week 'ooh, you're not a Christian now'. That's nonsense!
But our general track, our trajectory, the trend, the purpose, the thing that should be happening, that we are working towards improving - is pray more, and having faith more.
Having faith. We prayerfully have faith in order that we can work for God, and that will mean, humanly speaking, taking risks. Maybe it means selling your house and putting your money into a business that wasn't ready for that, but God's got a purpose and a plan. And his purpose, and a plan has probably not got much to do with your comfort. It probably has got everything to do with your heart developing to be more like Jesus, so we can be made more ready for heaven, as Corrie Ten Boom wonderfully illustrated in her book, and her statements about this.
Prayer and faith work together.
They are complementary to one another.
The Holy Spirit is complementary to God.
Jesus is complementary to the Holy Spirit, and so it goes on.
If you wanna learn how to have more faith, you've got to pray!
If you want to pray more and be more effective in your prayer - and see those mountains moving through your prayer - you need to pray, and you need to have faith.
Faith healed people - Jesus spoke to them, and their faith healed them. Not even the words of Jesus was the healing, it's the faith that did it. That's what the Bible teaches us really, simply. So don't throw away faith. Don't throw away prayer.
And if you see someone who's not praying and exercising faith, let's not jump to the judgement, snap decision, 'ooh they're not a Christian'. That, that'll be just foolish - makes us look foolish when we do that. Let's give people time. 6months, 12 months. Let's see who they are, where they're going in life.
And let's pray for them in faith. Let's pray for everything in faith. Let's ask God to develop our faith.
And if you're really brave, as we were those years ag, a decade ago, pray for God to teach you faith, and He will. I can guarantee it won't be what you think it's gonna be. It'll be exciting nonetheless, and that's what dealing with God is like. It's exciting, because Christ died for you, and for me, and rose again 3 days later so we can have the choice to communicate with God and live eternally with God in heaven when we die.
That's faith, because we have an assurety of where we're going to go. So whatever happens in this life, what does it really matter - we already know where we're going. That's faith!
You want to increase your faith, get on your knees pray more.
That's faith and prayer.
They work beautifully together, so let's get on with it.
Let's exercise some faith, prayerfully. Exercising faith is what it's all about as a Christian!
Written by Andy B