I want you, together with me, to look at this question of miracles, the gift of faith and how to receive healing. Miracles will come, but it’s not always easy. There are times when I am facing challenges so great that I have to say to the Lord, “Why can’t I do it?” Those of you who are seeking to pray with the sick and see miracles… When it doesn’t happen, ask the question, get alone with Jesus… Wherever your ‘place’ is where you go alone in prayer. I’m laughing at the joke that every man should have a ‘man cave’, a place where the husband can get away from his wife… But we need that equivalent with God. The Bible speaks of going into your ‘closet’, that’s simply somewhere where you can be alone with God in prayer…
We all walk through the valley of despair and heartache. In our spiritual experience we desire to stay on the mountain, in the glory and splendour – but God needs us in the valley where the problems are! You cannot live forever on the mountain. We have to come down as the disciples did from the Mount of Transfiguration. Recently, somebody sent me a message of encouragement, referring to my frequent prayer times on the mountains, he said that I face the valleys with the strength I receive on the mountain… Isn't that true for all of us?
We all go through temptations and trials, because, they 'show that your faith is genuine' (1 Peter 1.7). I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had not experienced my cancers and imprisonment. There never comes a point when we are not tested. If you are trusting in God, this does not mean you won’t have trials and temptations and difficulties. You will! Because it’s through the trial and the fiery furnace that your faith grows. It makes me think of the three Hebrew children who were thrown into the fiery furnace, or Daniel when he was thrown in the lions’ den! This is the test of your faith. You go through the fire, you face the lions, you face the tribulations, the difficulties that you will have – tomorrow may be more difficult than any other day in the rest of your life! But your faith must not fail because it is being tested.
Faith is step by step, climbing higher! God can do amazing things! In my life, faith has grown through the trials and tribulations I’ve been through. The more miracles I saw, the more I expected. From my teenage years I had seen some small miracles, but when I was about 21, 22 – pastor of a church in Harrogate – one of my senior men, on whom I depended for support, was found to be terminally ill with bowel cancer. They removed most of his insides and sent him home with a colostomy and a catheter and only 3 weeks to live. The Holy Spirit put in my heart to pray that God would heal him. The miracle was so big, he was totally healed and back in the church. He never died of cancer! So you see, my faith was growing step by step. That’s what Peter is referring to, it’s putting your faith to the test. Sometimes your faith has got to go through a fiery experience in order to prove that it really works.
James 5 says that the prayer of faith shall save the sick. This is faith in a more powerful sense. It’s the action of praying and believing that sees the miracle. People know that I’ve been healed of cancer twice, but on both occasions, it was a far bigger miracle than you can realise. On neither occasion did I have any medication, not a tablet, no chemo, nothing. I took a step of faith and I was completely healed. I was standing very clearly by a very strong element of faith. 1 Peter 1:7 says, the trial of your faith is more precious than gold – gold perishes, faith doesn’t – although it’s tested with fire – this faith lasts! The real question of faith is when it’s put to the test.
I want to encourage you to seek the Lord in a new way. I know we are going through difficult times. Throughout my life I’ve been through difficult times. But through it all God has always made a way of escape, that’s His Promise, 1 Corinthians 10:13. In your greatest difficulties, God makes a way through. We’ve not been called to live a life of comfort and luxury, but we are called to ‘live a life’! In Psalm 37 David is urging a confidence in God. This is what I want you to have – confidence. God is in control and will give you the desires of your heart if you will commit your way to Him.
When your delight is in the Lord, when your pleasure is in the relationship you have with Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. When you love somebody, you ‘delight’ in them, you are happy with them. If your relationship with the Lord is like that, then, Scripture says, He will give you the desires of your heart. Many times when I’m praying, I’m asking for things which are not just my needs, but which are also the desire of my heart… I’ve always from my youth desired to be an evangelist. I never dreamt my ministry would be as amazing as it is. My dream was just to do it. To get on with the job. But it was my dream – it was a delight, and my delight was in the Lord! And God has given me far more than I could ask!
When we commit our way to Him, even our steps, our direction, are ordered by the Lord. They are planned by Him, in advance, fore-ordained. Because the Lord knows the end from the beginning. And if a man’s steps are ordered by Him, v23 says, ‘He delights in his way.’ This means, God will be delighted in the way that you are going! We need to put our lives in God’s Hands!
‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures… Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.’ The valley of the shadow is where the light of the sun is cut off. I love walking in the mountains. On the mountain top the sun can be bright, but when you drop down into that valley, there’s no sunlight, it can’t penetrate the valley walls – that is the valley where the light of the sun is cut off! I want to tell you that wherever you go in your life, whatever trial, whatever problem, whatever difficulty you are going through – even if you feel the light of the sun is cut off – then God will not fail you. He says His rod and His staff will comfort you, and you will come safely through.
I love the promises in Psalms. There comes a time in your life and mine when only God can satisfy. In my teenage years my prayer was, “My flesh longs for You Lord, I’m thirsting for You, I’m hungry for You,” – but more, the next verse, I’ve never forgotten it, “to see Your Power and Your Glory, NOW, as I have seen You in the past, in the sanctuary” – this is my heart’s desire, NOW! That just as I have seen the Power of God in the past, I want to see MORE, NOW, IN THE FUTURE. I have to live, I cannot die, they can’t take me until I see Your Power, Your Glory, NOW – GREATER THAN ANYTHING I HAVE SEEN IN THE PAST!