James 5:15 “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up;”
The “prayer of faith” is a prayer that is spoken by a person who has God’s Spirit dwelling in her; it’s not something she has to “work up”; it’s something that is already happening in her heart, soul, and spirit because of the presence of God’s Spirit in her. It’s one of those “rivers of living water” that flows out of her because she trusts in Jesus as a condition of her very being; it’s not just a momentary act of her will. I’m 66 years old, and I’m just now beginning to get that concept.
What does an apple tree do during the process of bearing fruit? It sits there and waits, but while it’s sitting there it takes in the ingredients it uses to make fruit—water, nutrients from the soil, sun and rain from the sky. Then one day, when the time is right, it puts out leaves and begins to develop the chlorophyll that is its food, it puts out buds and blossoms and bees come along and help with the pollination, and in due time, while the tree is still waiting, the blossoms turn into little, tiny apples. Eventually, the apples grow big and ripen and get ready to be picked and eaten.
But here’s the version that we would envision if we were comparing most of us to an apple tree. The apple tree gets up every morning and starts worrying about how it is going to bear fruit. It knows there must be fruit down in there somewhere, so it grunts, pushes, strains, gets tired and frustrated, and develops ulcers waiting for something to happen. It grunts and pushes, expecting I guess, for the apples to just pop out of the ends of the branches. One day no apples; the next day ‘pop!’, and there are big, fully developed, fully ripened apples. It just doesn’t work that way, does it?
In Spanish, wait and hope are the same word, esperar, and sometimes I think trust could be a part of those same active verbs. While we’re waiting and hoping, we’re also trusting that God is going to bring it to pass, because there’s not a way in the world that we’re ever going to push hard enough or grunt hard enough to make those apples pop out on our tree. We’re got to trust that God, by His Spirit, is going to use what He’s put in us to fulfill His purposes in the world. That’s the service of trust, and that is the same action verb we need to have when we pray, which is down deep knowing that God is going to bring it to pass.