From Genesis to Revelation, God has always wanted connection and intimacy with his people. He wooed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He dwelt among the Israelites in the Tabernacle of Moses. Jesus lived his life among the Jews. And at the end of the Bible, God promises to once again reside in the midst of his people.
Connection and empowerment are two sides of the same coin. If we connect to God, his power will flow through us to others. Conversely, power is the product of a vibrant relationship with God. This is the beginning and foundation of all ministry. We act in cooperation with what heaven already wants to do.
When we walk closely with God, we begin to recognize his prompting and respond. Our hands and words become a channel of his goodness towards others. Without him, we can do nothing:
I am the vine; you are the branches…If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:5-7
Peter and John understood the power and authority given to them. They knew their assignment. One day as they approached the temple, they saw a man lame from birth at the gate called Beautiful. Peter spoke these words to the cripple: Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. Peter took him by the hand, helped him up, and the man walked, jumped, and praised God. (Acts 3:1-10)
When we connect to God, we become sensitive to the way he operates. We begin to see with his eyes, hear with his ears, and act with his hands.
In my experience, I have seen God respond to three things…faith, need, and expectation. When any or all of these are present, God is ready to act.
Faith is an important concept, a necessary component of effective prayer. It is the confidence of what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) Some believe that the person receiving ministry must attain a certain level of faith before they can receive from God. But that viewpoint does not agree with scripture.
In Mark 2, it was the faith of a few friends that prompted them to lower their sick companion through the roof. Many came to Jesus believing he could heal, but sometimes it was Christ’s faith that activated the power of God. Faith is an essential part of the process, but it is not limited to the one receiving ministry.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
God also responds to Need. There have been times when my presence and ministry are an answer to someone’s prayer. A mother or father may have asked God for intervention, and I found myself as the vehicle that provided God’s reply.
When I worked as a tutor, I was called to assist a young man who was flunking his freshman year of high school. It was Spring and he had just broken his leg in a skiing accident. My assignment was to help him complete the school year. Although nothing was ever said, I sensed that his mother had prayed desperately for an answer to the dilemma. God answered by sending me. In just two months, God reversed the situation in a miraculous way. The young man finished his freshman year with A’s and B’s and went on to be very successful in high school and then college. The compassionate heart of God responded to the need and the heartfelt cry of a mother.
Finally, Expectation is the third component which triggers a response from God. When someone asks for prayer, they anticipate a touch from God. Their expectant hope becomes the connecting point to the power of God. It elicits a reaction and he moves on their behalf.
During times of ministry, I have seen firsthand the difference that expectation makes. Those who come forward with high expectations are much more likely to receive from God. When their hopes are centered on God as the source and not a person, he responds. Their confidence becomes the bridge that joins the natural to the supernatural realm.
And I pray that you…may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God…who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…Ephesians 3:17-20
Connection to God is the basis for all ministry. It makes us sensitive to his leading and empowers us to act. How do we stay connected? The Apostle Paul instructed the church to be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) The verb tense here actually means to be continually filled. Once is not enough. When we connect to God and walk in his fullness, the overflow will impact the lives of others.