Pray and Fast to Express True “Knees and Hands” Faith
The Bible relates many stories of ordinary men and women who trusted God. They talked to God, heard from God and trusted God with their lives and actions. They did this even at times when it seemed foolish to others. What they accomplished changed lives and nations.
God does not change, so their stories have relevance for us. These people were no more or less spiritual than we are. Most of them had deep character flaws. But they trusted God. They did not just lean on their own understanding. They had faith.
Faith does not just mean belief in the right things. In the Bible, faith is an action, not a noun. We do not possess faith. Rather, faith possesses us. We show faith by our works (James 2:18).
In the Bible, faith means to know and experience God. It is not a religious act, but a life act.
Faith involves trusting God for who He is and what He has done and promised. Faith is never blind. God always gives assurance that what He promises will indeed happen (Hebrews 11:1).
In a way, faith involves both knees (in prayer) and hands (in acts) that respond to God and make a lasting difference in the world.
IGO exists today because of people in my own life who prayed and discerned God’s voice. Their hearing brought God’s assurance which led to action. Their faith, like that of Bible persons, focused on God’s strength, not their weaknesses.
Faith involves learning by experience that with Jesus, all things are possible. He is not bound by human weakness, our past, our present, by life or death, by the devil, by politics, educational systems, cultures, philosophies, human prejudices and assumptions, by the words of any experts, natural forces or teachings of our wisest men and women.
Costa Deir, a man of God now with the Lord and influential in my life and IGO’s early ministry, recognized this nature of faith as indispensable to those called of God as spiritual leaders. “The strength of the work is the worker,” he said.
He spoke in particular of the strength they gain through their time on their knees before God. This gives them power to become more than religious leaders but men and women of God.
In this prayer and fasting issue of Prayer & Praise, we will briefly consider ordinary people in the Bible who walked with God and lived extraordinary lives. We will also pray daily for those in India who are studying at IGO training centers to become workers who proclaim the gospel for this generation, and other teaching and discipleship ministries of IGO.
God prepares and calls each of us to particular tasks. My prayer is that these few pages will move you to your knees and to act with your own hands in the power of the Holy Spirit in the world where God has placed you.
T. Valson Abraham
Bible characters will be taken from Hebrews 11 and other portions of the Old and New Testaments. Some of them are little known but precious examples of living faith that pleases God. We could name many others.
By faith, Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, implying that Cain’s sacrifice was rejected because he offered it without faith, that is, as a mere religious formality (Hebrews 11:4; Genesis 4:2-5). God cares only about acts that involve trust in Him. Pray for India Bible College and Seminary in Kerala.
By faith, Enoch was taken up bodily into heaven (he was not found) so that he would not see death because his trust in God was so complete and genuine (Hebrews 11:5-6; Genesis 5:18-24). Pray for Punjab Bible College, Punjab.
By faith, Noah, warned by God of things not seen, prepared an ark to save his family. Later, he saw God judge a faithless world after he was mocked for his obedience to God in true faith (Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 5:28-9:29). Pray for Gujarat Bible Training Center, Gujarat.
By faith, Abraham was called by God to go to a place God would show him, not knowing where he was going. He dwelled in tents while he looked for the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God Himself (Hebrews 11:8-10; Genesis 12:1-3). Pray for Himachal Bible College, Himachal Pradesh.
By faith, Sarah received the ability to conceive, long beyond the normal time of conception, beginning the family of descendants, both natural and spiritual, that would become more numerous than the stars in the heavens and sands on the seashore (Hebrews 11:11-12; Genesis 18:11-12). Pray for Discipleship Center, Jammu & Kashmir.
All the above died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed they were strangers and exiles on the earth, desiring a better country. They all pleased God for their confidence in Him (Hebrews 11:13-16). Pray for Karnataka Bible Training Center, Karnataka.
By faith, Abraham was willing to offer up Isaac, his only son of promise, through whom all of his descendants were to come, convinced that God was able to raise people from the dead. This happened when God provided a ram as a type, foreseeing the day when Jesus would become the Lamb of God (Hebrews 11:17-19; Genesis 22). Pray for Tamil Nadu Bible Training Center, Tamil Nadu.
By faith, Isaac passed on in blessing to Jacob and Esau those promises that had been given to him by God through Abraham (Hebrews 11:20; Genesis 27). Pray for Telangana Bible Training Center, Telangana.
By faith, Jacob, after a life of many troubles and in his dying breaths, was filled with blessings for each of Joseph’s sons, raised in Egypt but still children of the covenant. He was filled with worship for God, anxious for his heavenly home. In spite of Egypt’s comforts in his last years, he never regarded Egypt as his true home, but only the unfailing promises of God for a land still occupied by pagan Canaanites (Hebrews 11:21; Genesis 47-48). Pray for Odisha Bible Training Center, Odisha.
By faith, Joseph, on his deathbed, ordered that his body be transported back to the Promised Land when his people returned at the time of the Exodus. Joseph foresaw that day which would not come to pass for 400 years (Hebrews 11:22; Genesis 50). Pray for Darjeeling Bible Training Center, West Bengal.
By faith, Moses endured and passed several severe tests of his trust in God: his refusal to be named a son of the Pharaoh and willingness to identify with the persecuted Israelites; leaving Egypt, not fearing the wrath of Pharaoh, spending 40 years in the wilderness, trusting God for future deliverance of his people; keeping the Passover in trust of God’s faithful leadership; leading his people through the Red Sea (Hebrews 11:23-29; Exodus 1-15). Pray for Mizoram Bible College, Mizoram.
By faith, Joshua and the Israelites brought the supposedly impregnable walls of Jericho crashing to the ground (Hebrews 11:30; Joshua 6). Joshua was convinced God’s promises were stronger than man’s walls. Pray for Cummings School of Music, Kerala.
By faith, Rahab, the harlot of pagan Jericho, welcomed the spies of the covenant people of Israel as her own people. In so doing, she trusted God’s grace, thereby saving herself and her family. God raised her to dignity, so she became part of the family line leading to Jesus Himself (Hebrews 11:31; Joshua 2 & 6). Pray for Hope Counseling Center, Kerala (online counseling available since the COVID pandemic).
By faith, David wanted to build a temple to God. Instead, God told David that he would not build the temple, but that in coming generations, God would build a more enduring temple through His people, Israel, through David’s line, culminating in the coming of Jesus whose kingdom would last forever. David accepted this word (Hebrews 11:32-38; 2 Samuel 7:8-16). Pray for Revive (magazine teaching God’s Word in multiple languages).
By faith, the impoverished widow of Zarephath and the Shunnamite woman received back their sons from the dead by resurrection because they trusted the word of God’s prophets, though they came from pagan peoples (Hebrews 11:35; 1 Kings 17; 2 Kings 4). Pray for India Bible College and Seminary, Kerala.
By faith, Aaron and Hur faithfully backed up Moses, helping him in many ways to overcome the many challenges Moses faced, trying to obey God, leading the often-complaining people of Israel from Egyptian captivity into the Promised Land. They were faithful in supporting another man in his work, knowing it was ordained of God (Exodus 17). Pray for Punjab Bible College, Punjab.
By faith, Esther trusted God to work through her to move the heart of a pagan king to save her and her exiled people from the vindictive, vain and wicked Haman. She was an ordinary girl, but she trusted God to do powerful acts through her, saving her, her family and her people (Esther 1-10). Pray for Gujarat Bible Training Center, Gujarat.
By faith, Nehemiah, a captive and exile, entrusted his ruined city and humiliated people into the hands of God for redemption only God could provide. Nehemiah saw God use a pagan king to answer his many prayers, while working through Nehemiah to rally a demoralized people in spiritual awakening, to rebuild broken walls and overcome intimidation and heavy opposition by godless men (Nehemiah 1-12). Pray for Himachal Bible College, Himachal Pradesh.
By faith, Mary and Joseph, an ordinary couple from a small village, willingly took upon themselves the divine assignment of giving birth to Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Their assignment involved unprecedented and often challenging and difficult situations, but they trusted God to help them. They became God’s instruments in bringing His kingdom on earth as in heaven (Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-20). Pray for Discipleship Center, Jammu & Kashmir.
By faith, Joanna openly expressed her deep gratitude to Jesus for healing her. Coming from the court and household of the wicked Herod Antipas, she took upon herself great risk, faithfully supporting Jesus and His disciples for three years of ministry. She most likely testified of Him in a corrupt, lying and murderous environment. She was among the last at His crucifixion and was one of the first three women at the empty tomb (Luke 8, 24). Pray for Karnataka Bible Training Center, Karnataka.
By faith, and through a costly perfume that probably cost her life savings, Mary offered a sacrifice of worship and praise to Jesus for His unconditional love. She ignored the comments and opinions of others who considered themselves her “betters,” receiving Jesus’ highest commendation. The fragrance of her grateful worship has come down as a model to our present day (John 12). Pray for Tamil Nadu Bible Training Center, Tamil Nadu.
By faith, an unnamed and isolated Samaritan woman, despised by her own despised people for her repulsive sins, experienced the love and redemption of Christ. Her experience so changed her life, she came out of her shell, told everyone about Jesus, opening the door for a massive move of Jesus’ love and power that swept her whole town (John 4). Pray for Telangana Bible Training Center, Telangana.
By faith, an unnamed Roman centurion, considered a pagan by the religious Jews, asked Jesus to heal his sick servant. He sensed Jesus’ holiness and felt himself unworthy for Jesus to enter his house, but he recognized Jesus’ authority and told Him, “Just say the word, and he will be healed.” Jesus responded, “I have never seen such faith in all of Israel!” The servant was healed on the basis of the centurion’s trust in Jesus (Luke 7). Pray for Odisha Bible Training Center, Odisha.
By faith, an unnamed widow placed two coins into the temple treasury, contrasting with the rich people who put in great amounts. She went unnoticed by everyone but Jesus who praised her great faith for giving everything she had, which He regarded as a greater gift to God than the others because they gave only out of their abundance with lesser faith. She has served as an example of great faith ever since (Mark 12; Luke 21). Pray for Darjeeling Bible Training Center, West Bengal.
By faith, Cornelius, an “unclean” Gentile and Roman centurion, known for generosity and God-fearing ways, prayed earnestly to God for truth. God answered his prayers, directing Peter, a strict Jew, to preach Jesus Christ to Cornelius and his household. Peter obeyed. All of Cornelius’ household was filled with the Holy Spirit. God shows no favorites with salvation and Holy Spirit power (Acts 10). Pray for Mizoram Bible College, Mizoram.
By faith, Epaphroditus gave tirelessly of himself in service for Paul and for the cause of Christ, even to the point of death, as a soldier of the cross. He thought of others first, never seeking anything for himself, all to advance the gospel in the world in which he lived (Philippians 2:25-30; 4:18). Pray for Cummings School of Music, Kerala.
By faith, Lydia lived as a savvy Gentile businesswoman and as salt and light in her community with a passion for sharing the gospel and her gift of hospitality. She helped to establish a beachhead for the gospel on the European continent with Europe’s first fellowship of Christ followers (Acts 16:11-15;40). Pray for Hope Counseling Center, Kerala (online counseling available since the COVID pandemic).
By faith, Lois and Eunice, as grandmother and mother to Timothy, raised the young boy on the scriptures, forming the foundation for his coming to Christ through Paul. In the end, the entire church of Ephesus felt the godly influence of these two women of faith who took their stewardship of Timothy seriously (2 Timothy 1:15). Pray for Revive (magazine teaching God’s Word in multiple languages).