Summary: A short talk for an all age worship service asking whether we demand or expect signs and miracles. Does our trust in Jesus go up and down depending on the miracles we see or do not see or do we take Jesus at his word?
I need some people to help me with my survey of 10 people regarding miracles, healings, answered prayers, unanswered prayers and faith in God.
1 out of 10 people surveyed said: “I do not believe in God. I will not believe in God. My parents told me there is no God. My teachers told me there is no God. Richard Dawkins says there is no God. Nothing will change my mind. Not now. Not ever. I am one of the results of a very big explosion billions of years ago.”
8 out of 10 people surveyed said:
If God would answer my prayers I would definitely believe in him
My Auntie died last week so I don’t believe in God.
My cat got better so I do believe in God.
My Mum and dad split up so I stopped believing in God …but now they’re back together again so I’ve started believing in God again too.
The new Vicar didn’t know my name. I’ve been going to that Church 20 years so I don’t believe in God any more.
The Vicar’s sermons have started making sense so perhaps there is a God after all.
I saw a blind man receive his sight after some Christians prayed for him so I’ve believed in God since that moment.
We raised £2 million for our new Church building. It was a miracle.
The Church prayed for people. Some got better but most didn’t. If they all got better I would definitely believe in God.
And our final person quoted Job: “Even if he kills me, yet will I hope in him.” He quoted King David, “Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.” He quoted Jesus, “Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my father’s House are many rooms.” He quoted Jesus again, “Peace I leave you. My peace I give to you.” He quoted Jesus on the cross: “Father into your hands I commit my Spirit.”
I wonder if your Vicar or preacher has ever prayed prayers like these:
1. Oh God, I’ve got no idea what to say this Sunday. This thing about love and forgiveness is just too hard. A Bible reading about healing is not what I wanted to hear this week! I’ve not been healed so why should anyone else get healed? Why did you have to go and be so nice to that man and to his son who was ill, but you can’t even spare the time to make me better. I’ve had enough. That’s it. I don’t believe in you. You’re just too religious, or maybe you’re just not religious enough. Yes, that’s it. God, you’re not really a white British Anglican after all, are you! You welcome children, you welcome bad people, you welcome people I don’t like, and you even welcome people who don’t like me. I don’t believe in you. I never did. I never will.
2. Oh God, I really need you to do something fantastic this Sunday. I was out on the golf course all day Tuesday, I was out at Church meetings all day Wednesday, I was out visiting people in hospital and making phone calls all day Thursday, and when it came to Friday to prepare my sermon I had no idea at all how to put together the most impressive, funniest, most challenging and thought-provoking talk this church has ever heard! Oh God, I need you. I need you to find the best film clip I’ve ever shown. Or, or, or I need some really clever photos to show, or, or, or I need some new magic trick I can use to make people say, “Wow. That was good, wasn’t it”? Oh God, I need you now. My sermon for Sunday is at the point of near death. I’m not seeing any signs of life on this blank page. God! God? Are you there? God, you need to do something right now so that I can believe in you, and it really needs to be now, or else …or else.
3. Lord, what does the Bible say about faith in you? Is it true that you didn’t entrust yourself to people who only put their trust in you because they saw miracles (John 2: 23-25)? I guess it must be true that it’s better to believe because I’ve seen a miracle than not to believe at all (10:38). Yes, you said that once, but you said it to people who stubbornly refused to believe. Lord, I want to trust in you whatever the future may hold. Lord, if I stand up with nothing to say I will trust you. Lord, I want to be like those heroes from the Old Testament Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo. Found guilty of worshipping the one true God instead of a bronze statue of the King they boldly declared, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not …worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).