I have met a lot of people who claim to be Christians, and yet there is no example of God doing anything in their lives. Since the Bible proclaims that God is a Christian's heavenly Father, shouldn't there be some living evidence of that relationship?
Most prayer requests are centered around selfish things of which the overwhelming majority are for health and wealth. There are very few offers of complete surrender to God's will; very few "use me for Your glory" petitions. Because Christians don't seek to glorify God's Name, opportunities are not given or are missed.
For an outward observer, the typical Christian's life is no different than that of a non-believer. They both seek the same things: possessions, power, wealth, ease, and entertainment. Even the good things Christians may accomplish do not set them apart any more than non-believers who are involved in philanthropic organizations. And that is really sad, especially since Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that when people see a Christian's good works, they will glorify the Father in heaven.
When our life's focus is self, there are no Biblical works. No works means men don't see any and there is no one glorifying God. It also means an anemic testimony; one that is little more than, “I asked Jesus to save me when I was so many years old.” Shouldn't our testimony be more than that? Shouldn't it be more up-to-date? Shouldn't it reflect a loving, vibrant relationship with God?
The Apostle John wrote in Revelation, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” It's our testimony that overcomes Satan – not only in our lives, but in the lives of those who are lost. When the lost (or even the saved who have lost hope) hear a personal testimony of God's power, it makes a difference.
The following is an example of the power of a testimony that is based upon God doing something extraordinary in a believer's life. It is extracted from chapter 11 of Brendan Smith's book, In His Shelter.
“I believe in God because I have seen Him work.”
“You have seen Him work? Okay, sure! Tell us about when you have seen God work,” he (an argumentative man named Roy) said sarcastically.
I was getting angry, so I was blunt with my reply: “Roy, I will give you just one example and that is it. I don’t think you even want to hear about it about, anyway. A few years ago when I was a youth pastor for a church in South Africa, we decided that we were going to send all our youth to a conference in Cape Town. We were not a rich church but we felt that we had to send everyone who wanted to go there. We started raising money. We sold hot dogs and burgers. We did odd jobs. We worked in people’s gardens; we painted walls and fences. We did everything we could think of to raise money. We asked parents to help where they could, and each parent gave what they had. But it was not enough. We still needed R424 (424 South African Rand – about $50 US). It may not sound like much, but we just could not get that last R424. We had to pay the bus company the next day, and they were going to cancel our booking if we did not come up with the money. So our pastor called all the youth together. We met in his living room — thirty of us all sitting on his floor — and we prayed. We prayed. We prayed. A couple of hours later, there was a knock on the door. The pastor — Rob — went to open it. We could not see the person but we could hear what was said: ‘Rob, I am sorry it is so late, but my mother just came over to my house and told me to drive to your house to deliver this letter. I told her that it was too late at night and that she did not even go to your church, but she insisted that I come over right now.’ We heard Rob say that it was alright and then we heard Rob open the letter. And then silence. Then the person delivering the letter looked around the corner and saw all of us praying. ‘What are you praying for?’ she asked. ‘This!’ said Rob, who had opened up the envelope and was holding in his hand a cheque for R430. And so we went to Cape Town. You see, Roy, I have seen God work and that is why I believe in Him.”
A few months later, I was at an Armed Forces Christian Union conference. We had finished our meeting for the evening and were just chatting around the fire. It was almost midnight. The weather was horrendous outside, and the whole of Germany seemed to be in a whiteout. Suddenly, the doors blew open and in walked Roy … and he came running over to me, brushed my outstretched hand aside, and gave me a big hug.
“Brendan, I have travelled six hours through the most miserable weather to tell you that I gave my life to the Lord last night. I just can’t contain my happiness … I drove all the way here just to tell you that it was you who changed my life … It was your story about your youth group that did it. I just could not shake it. It stayed with me for months. I had never heard a story like that before. Eventually, I decided that if God did that, then He must exist. So last night, I got on my knees and I prayed for the first time in my life. I then started shaking and laughing, and I have not stopped smiling since. My heart is bursting.”
(For more information about Brendan, see www.brendansmith.co.za.)
God did an amazing work in response to a prayer for $50 that would later lead to a testimony that would overcome the power of Satan in a nonbeliever's life. Brendan's book is filled with examples of God intervening in Brendan's life in ways that allowed others to see that God does exist and that He does care.
God is eager to show us that He cares and intervenes. 2 Chronicles records, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”
Perhaps it's time to shift the focus of your prayer life from self-centeredness to one of asking God to use you to glorify His name and build your testimony.