Thursday, October 30, 2008

How Long Lord?

Have you ever asked that question? How long Lord? Probably all who have ever prayed have. But asking that question can come from a lack of understanding of prayer and how prayer works because prayer is a process.

Jesus said this; that everything in the kingdom of God starts from a seed, (and that includes answers to our prayers).
These are the Lord’s words…
“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mk. 4:26-29 NIV)

So, as Jesus said, everything in the kingdom of God is a process. It is a process of Seed, Time, and Harvest. A seed is planted, time must pass during the process of growth, and harvest comes when the fruit is ripe. And so it is with prayer. It is a process. It starts from a seed, and will take time to come to pass.

Skipping ahead a little in the prayer process, the important thing to note is that during the time period that it is growing, it is what we do (or don’t do) that will determine how long our prayer takes to be answered or even if it will be answered at all. That is because answers to prayer are no different than the growing of a plant from seed. When a seed is planted in the ground, it must be watered and protected and given the proper amount of light if it is expected to come to fruition. And it is the same with spiritual seed and our prayer. If we want our spiritual seed to come to pass and to come to pass in the shortest amount of time, we need to learn how to nurture it properly. In this article I will lay some of that important ground work for you.

Let's first look at the difference between natural seed and spiritual seed (and where the difficulty in nurturing spiritual seed comes in). The difference is that we cannot always see spiritual seed growing while with natural seed we can. And that is why the bible decrees that we must live by faith and not by sight. (2Cor. 5:7) When it comes to prayer answers, we must continue to believe that they are growing and will come to pass. If we doubt that our prayer is in the process of being answered, it will not be answered. Remember, Jesus said that we must believe and doubt not when we pray. (Mk. 11:22-24) I know that doesn’t make it any easier, but that is the way it is. And that is why Paul calls this a “fight” of faith. It is a fight of faith because when we cannot see the answers to our prayers growing, there is always room for doubts to plague us. However, we do not have to accept the doubts. We can continue to “fight the good fight of faith” and believe that the answer to our prayer is on the way.

One of the best illustrations of this process and what gospel faith is like can be seen in the promise that God made to Abraham and Sarah (who were called Abram and Sarai at the time of the promise). God promised to birth a great nation out of Abraham, and out of his wife Sarah. But the thing was; at the time of the promise, Abraham was 75 years old and Sarah was 65. Both were beyond child bearing years and had gone childless in their marriage. Yet, Abraham believed God's promise that he would be the father of a great nation. Now a major issue for Abraham, (besides this promise being naturally impossible) was the length of time that it took for the promise to come to pass. Abraham had to stand in faith for 25 years before a son was miraculously born to him! Now, that’s a long time to believe such a seemingly impossible promise but that is what Abraham did. We can read what scripture says about Abraham… “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him…, Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Rom. 4:18-21 NIV) And Abraham did this for 25 years before he saw any results! Wow! What faith! And, what patience! And so, it was done unto Abraham according to his faith. And it will be done unto us the same way, if we believe God’s promises and doubt not.

You might be thinking here that I am saying that is will take 25 years for your prayer to be answered. Well, it may. It depends what you are praying for and what it is that must grow. Are you growing something small like a head of lettuce or are you growing something big like a Red Wood Tree? What Abraham was waiting for was pretty big.

The thing to remember in all of this is that even though a plant grows so slowly that you cannot "see" it growing, it is. Looking at time lapse photography shows us that. Well, your prayer is the same way. You may not be able to "see" it growing, but it is. God is working behind the scenes and your prayer is coming to pass little by little.

The bible says, “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” (Heb. 6:15 NIV)

So, in order to see God’s promise of answered prayer come fully to pass, we must realize that prayer is a process and we must have the same kind of faith and patience that Abraham had... And we must have it no matter what happens and no matter how long it takes.

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Labor to Rest II

One of the most counter-productive things Christians do is trying to get things that they’ve already been given.

Let me explain. The bible says this about all provision from God… “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him…” (2 Pet. 1:3 NIV) This is past tense and refers to what we have received when we came to know Jesus as our savior. When we accepted Jesus as our savior, we received everything we needed for life and godliness…, EVERYTHING…, ALREADY.

This is no different than the concept of salvation and the gift of eternal life. Salvation has already been given to mankind through the life and death of Jesus Christ and is not something we can attain ourselves through trying. That would be "counter-productive," and would not gain for us eternal life. Salvation and eternal life is something that we must RECEIVE in order to have. (Eph. 2:8-9) It is receiving Christ as savior that gains for us salvation and eternal life. It is not obtained by trying to get it, (or even asking for it). Well, it is the same thing with everything else we need after we have accepted Jesus as savior. It has already been given to us through Christ and is not attained by trying to get it but obtained by RECEIVING it.

For example…, Christians seem always to be asking God for power, when power has already been given to us. There are many scriptures in the New Testament that attest to this. Just one of them says this, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Tim. 1:7) So, this scripture says that we have been given power already. We need simply to receive that by faith to "have" it. In other words we just need to believe it. And not only that, but this scripture also says that we have been given a spirit of love. So, trying to be more loving or asking God to help you be more loving would also be counter-productive. In order to obtain what God has already given us, (in this case to be more loving) we must receive it, not try to get it. God can’t give you something that he has already given you.

Another example…, Christians are always trying to attain righteousness and trying to be and to live righteously, but the bible says that righteousness has already been given to us. It says that we have been … “made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5:21) Righteousness can be obtained only by receiving it; that is, accepting by faith that we are righteous already. When we believe that, (rather than trying to be that) we will begin to see a transformation in our lives. A righteous life style will begin to grow and become natural, where we will not be trying to get it in our own effort but increasing in it through the power of God’s word. Christianity is a fight of faith, not works. (Rom. 12:1-2)

Here’s a good one. Many Christians are “trying” to get healed from God when the bible says that we are already healed! Isaiah said “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isa. 53:5) We are healed already! We need to believe that to see it. The book of 1 Peter says the same thing. (1Pet. 2:24) We do not get healed from God by "trying" to get a healing but by believing that we are healed already. Then you will begin to see a transformation in your life where healing will begin to come.

I know that this whole concept sounds a bit strange, and to the natural mind it is. Natural man needs to see things before they believe it, but in Christianity, it is just the opposite. We need to believe it before we will see it. That is called faith. And it is our faith that will bring it to pass. Watchman Nee said in his fabulous little book, “Sit, Walk, Stand”… “Christianity is a queer business! If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything. For Christianity begins not with a big DO but with a big DONE.” (“Sit, Walk, Stand,” page 14) Everything we need has already been acquired for us by Jesus and simply must be received.

All of this is related to the verse of scripture I am focusing on in this article… “Let us labor to enter into that rest…” (Heb. 4:11) In other words, it is our job to enter into the rest of the finished work of Christ BY FAITH…, that is, to believe that what we need has already been given to us through the Lord, not try to get it. That is where the “rest” in Christ is and that is where your needs will be met and your prayers answered. (Mk. 11:24)

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of : “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Labor to Rest

This statement, (labor to rest) sounds like a contradiction in terms. Actually I took a little liberty in using this statement because the bible says it like this… “let us labor therefore to enter into that rest,” which to my ear still sounds like a contradiction. But really, it is not. (Heb. 4:11)

This would be a contradiction… trying to do something that is already done. That would be a contradiction, or trying to get something that you already have. That too would be a contradiction. And in fact, it is these two contradictions that this scripture is addressing, (and trying to help us avoid).

Many Christians and many non-Christians try to do something that is already done and they try to get things that they already have. Allow me to explain by looking at my opening scripture. It is really not that complicated.

The scripture, "let us labor therefore to enter in that rest" is found in a chapter that addresses two specific issues.

The first issue addressed is that of our salvation and entrance into heaven. What it says is that what must be done to obtain our salvation and gain entrance into heaven has already been done for us. It was through the life and death of Jesus that accomplished this for us. There is nothing left for us to do except to “enter into that rest” by faith or maybe better said, to trust in Jesus to save us. There is no human effort, (besides our faith) that is needed to gain entrance into heaven. And as I will explain, any attempt to gain heaven in our own efforts is a contradiction and is futile… in essence trying to do something that is already done.

So again, what this portion of scripture is saying is that what needs to be done to gain entrance into heaven is already done for us by Jesus Christ. We need do nothing except to “rest” in his finished work by faith. AND once we do that, (having accepted Jesus as our savior) we are then called to trust in the fact that acceptance with God and a future eternal life in heaven is ours! Period, with no more to do! “That” is where the rest is for the people of God. And "that" is what we are to labor to enter into. It is a fight of faith, not trying!

Now, the reason that this scripture says to “labor” to enter into that rest is because it is simply hard to believe. It is hard to “let go and let God,” and to trust Jesus to save you. Because of our humanity we feel that there must be something we must do. But heaven is not gained by good works or good intentions or trying to live a good enough life. That just isn’t possible. God’s standard is perfection and Jesus is the only one who could live up to this standard. None of us can attain that because we are imperfect beings. Thus, it is only by faith in Christ and in what he did for us that can “save” us. Besides, we have ALL sinned, and it is only Jesus that died for those sins. Without him, we would have to pay an eternal price for sin ourselves. (Rom. 3:23, 6:23)

If we can come to grips with this scripture, (and all of chapter 4 of Hebrews) we can receive Christ as savior and rest in the fact that in Christ all we need to do to enter heaven is already done. This means that all struggle of “trying” to gain God’s favor and “trying” to be good enough to get to heaven plus all the worry and unrest and uncertainty of our eternal destination will cease. A new peace and a new rest will enter into our lives. Then, the importance of good works and a good lifestyle will take on a new meaning and be more rewarding. No longer will you feel pressured, driven and guilt-ridden trying to live up to a standard that you cannot attain. You will in essence be off the exhausting treadmill. You will be at rest.

So, if you have already accepted Jesus as savior, think of it this way. Trying to be good enough to be in right standing with God is counter-productive and brings a lack of peace. Trusting that you already are in right standing with him will bring rest! (“Labor therefore to enter into that rest”). But if you have not accepted Jesus as your savior; if you feel that what you do will be good enough to get you into heaven, it just won't be. Salvation cannot be earned. It can only be obtained by receiving Jesus as our savior, not by trusting in our own good works…

I will look at the second issue that Heb. 4:11 addresses in my next article. And that issue is about how Christians “try to get things that they’ve already been given.” Until then, enjoy your rest in Christ!

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of : “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.