Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotion #34
Faith, Prayer and a Woman Named Tabitha.
David Breen – General Manager Training & Education
Acts 9: 36-42
Tabitha (Dorcas) who is a wonderful and generous woman gets ill and dies suddenly. She lives in a town called Joppa and has blessed many women who are widows. The believers in Jesus find out Peter is nearby and send two people to urge him to come to Joppa immediately. He walks the 17km to Joppa (about a half days walk) to where she has been prepared for burial, finds the widows mourning in the customary fashion, kicks them out (politely), prays on his knees, tells her to wake up, she does and the results are astounding. Many believe in Jesus as a result of this miracle of raising Tabitha back to life and the church of Jesus Christ grows.
What can we learn from this passage that applies to us today?
The first thing is this; the Spirit of God does use signs and wonders to convince people to put their faith in Jesus and become his disciples. God wants his church to grow and the Holy Spirit used Peter to raise the dead as a means to increasing the number of disciples. People need to hear the preaching of the Good News about Jesus Christ and often they need signs and wonders to catapult their faith into becoming disciples of Jesus. Humans are doubters or sceptics at heart – especially if they have a religious or educated, scientific background – and need proof of the presence and power of God to help put their faith in Jesus. The Jews in Joppa needed help to convince them Jesus was God, and it’s the same today – people may have heard about Jesus but need a miracle before they put their faith in Him. Peter followed the model Jesus gave him to win disciples and to pray for people so that the church would grow. To make disciples we have to first win them and at times it may take a miracle. Let’s pray for miracles to happen in our world and in the lives of our families and friends who do not yet love Jesus or follow Him as a disciple. Let’s ask Jesus to increase our faith and to do more abundantly above what we can ask or think possible so we see lives changed in our neighbourhoods and families. We may get to see a miracle and we may see lives changed and that’s worth the effort of prayer and faith. You never know one day you may get to see someone raised from the dead!
The second thing we learn is this; how we pray is critical to the outcome of our faith. Peter was bold in his prayer but he also followed the model that Jesus gave him in praying for the miraculous. We learn from Jesus and Peter that faith must be present (note: he told the widows to go out of the room so he could pray so their lack of faith would not hinder him – Jesus did that too) we must seek God to find out what he wants to do (we listen to the Spirit’s voice) and then speak boldly in prayer to bring into being what God wants. It would not have been any good for Peter to have prayed, ‘Dear God please raise Tabitha up right now, these dear widows loved her and need her so much to make her their clothes. Your will be done here but I just pray right now that you would comfort these dear folk and please give her life back to her so she can be part of this lovely community.’ No! That is not the way to pray in situations like this because pleading and petitioning God is not what Jesus told Peter to do. Peter was instructed to cooperate with what the Father wanted to do on the earth, so he did not have to plead for the lady to come to life because he knew it was what God wanted and was the specific will of God for the advance of the Gospel in that people group. Peter knew what the Spirit and Jesus wanted and was aligned to it – to make disciples and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Peter would not have seen miracles if he prayed for what he or the widows wanted, but because he prayed with his focus on the purposes of Jesus Christ and in line with how Jesus did it he was able to raise the dead.
Prayer and faith is so much easier when we are in line with what God is doing in the world. If we only seek to petition and plead with God for things we will have a tough job ahead of us. Don’t get me wrong, we need to petition God and to intercede for others and for our nation, but in terms of seeing God move in power to see lives changed and the church grow we need to align our minds and prayers with the Kingdom of God and the model he gave us. Get to know what is on God’s heart and mind. Find out what Jesus desires and follow the model of prayer he taught and then put that into practise and you will see miracles. Making disciples is the church’s number one priority and Jesus has called us to pray in faith and to follow his model of prayer. When we all work together to lead people this way, we will see people passionately following Jesus.