June 10, 2012 journal, from In Touch Ministry of Charles Stanley, the Christian message. Things That Cannot Be Shaken-Hebrews 12:25-29 "As a rule, people like security. We seek what is comfortable. Yet the reality of our world is that much instability exists. For example, finances, health, and even a country's ability to survive are not guaranteed. When our foundation is shaken, we often feel overwhelmed. Sometimes-Satan causes the difficulty-with God's permission, of course. At other times, challenging circumstances are brought about by the Lord's hand. Regardless of the source, we have the promise in Romans 8:28 that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." And in either case, the Almighty's purpose remains: to glorify Himself in our world and in our lives. There are different reasons the Lord permits turmoil, but for now, let's focus on one: He won't allow anything that enables man to seem self-sufficient in his own eyes. Therefore, God may lovingly allow enough trouble for us to realize our need of Him. Consider the trials the Israelites faced each time they turned away from Jehovah to worship other gods. In many ways, we do the same thing today. Individually, in our churches, and as a nation, we often glorify "gods" like money or status. But the One who created us will not tolerate this. In our pride, we tend to think we're able to manage without God. But out of love, He may stir up our lives to reveal our dependence upon Him. If you are basing your security on anything except Jesus Christ-even something as seemingly innocent as comfort-it will prove to be sinking sand. For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org. Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. (c) 2009 All Rights Reserved." Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dear Roger, "How many times must I pray for someone to be healed? I have friends who want me to pray again and again for their healing. The call goes out from the church to pray for somebody who is sick and we are encouraged to pray again and again while nothing happens. Frankly, I get rather tired of it sometimes. Is there a limit to how many times we should pray for someone's healing? Sincerely, Many Questioners Throughout the Years. In some cases three times is enough. Praying any more might actually be a waste of time! Julie and I were in Turkey when I was invited to a healing service for an American missionary serving in the Middle East. For over ten years he'd asked people to pray for his healing. He was at his wits' end. As we prayed, it became increasingly obvious to me that he was struggling with brain chemistry-neurotransmitter imbalances. When the prayer time ended I gently told him that it was time to stop praying for healing. "If God hasn't healed you after ten years of praying, then another year will probably not do it either. It seems to me that God's answer to you is, 'No. Stop asking Me. My grace is sufficient for you. I fully intend to pour the power of Christ into your life so that you may live victoriously with the sickness.'"I've heard and prayed perhaps several thousand prayers for God's healing hand to touch people with complete healing. I've been privileged to witness some great healings. I'll never forget how God brought life back to Ralph, healed the perpetual radiation pain and burns for Vi, and the bright light that overshadowed Tina and healed her in such a way that her upcoming surgery was simply canceled. However, I suspect that your prayers and results are much like mine. While some are healed, most are never healed. Many receive medical attention that alleviates their problems. Others die from their sicknesses. I conclude two things: first, it is not always God's will to heal; second, He has reasons that He wants some sicknesses to remain unhealed. I've thought a lot about Paul's healing prayers for others. There are none-except for the three times He prayed for God to remove the satanic stake twisting in his own flesh. I am certain that Paul did pray for people to be healed physically, but those prayers were not recorded-perhaps because curing sickness is not nearly such a big deal to the Lord as it is to us. What Paul's prayers do reveal is his deep concern for the maturing of the internal, eternal human spirit. He never (as far as we have it recorded) prayed for anyone's body to get well; conversely he never stopped praying for the development of the inner person. Let me share a couple of examples. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, ...may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe" (Ephesians 1:15-19). Dear Roger, "I believe in God. I believe Jesus as my savior and that he sacrificed himself for our sins. When I go to church, though, I find many people to be hypocritical. I know I'm not perfect and neither are they, but as a teenager (16) what can I do to show people I take this seriously? I pray and I'm starting to read the Bible for myself, but sometimes I find myself secluded from everyone. Like I'm different and even my friends, but I don't want to be Dear Andrea-"It sounds like to me that you're in a church filled with spiritual children. No wonder your heart is spiritually aching. I'm so sorry. Unfortunately, you are exposed to people who choose to remain spiritual children instead of growing up to maturity as spiritual mothers or fathers. Try not to be disillusioned by them. Grieve for them. You are well advised to look for others with hearts like yours - desiring to go on with Christ at any price. While the journey may at times be lonely and difficult, you are not the only one on the path. Pray and keep your eyes open to find spiritually like-minded followers of Christ. They are there. A.W. Tozer wrote: "Every man or woman is just as spiritual as he or she wants to be." Pray for God to make you a spiritual mother at any price. This is one prayer I guarantee He will answer. I've decided in responding to your letter to include an overview of why so many Christians fail to mature in Christ as well as some of the distinguishing characteristics of the three main levels of maturity mentioned in the Scriptures. Let me begin with an observation that I've observed during 40 years of leading seminars and disciple groups on the topic of spiritual growth: Most Christians are not nearly as spiritual as they think they are. Let's imagine that I have 100 people in the class. During the initial session I ask everyone to close their eyes and raise their hands in turn to designate how far along they are in their spiritual journeys. "How many consider yourselves to be spiritual children?" Twenty-five hands raise. "How many consider yourselves to be spiritual young men or women?" Sixty-five will raise their hands. "How many consider yourselves to be spiritual mothers or fathers?" Ten signify by raising theirs. Five weeks later, after I have detailed the characteristics of each spiritual level, I repeat the test. Their perceptions have radically changes. "Raise your hands," I say to them."Spiritual children?" Plus or minus sixty-three hands. "Young men or women?" Plus or minus thirty-four hands. "Spiritual mothers or fathers?" Three.