James 2: 14 - 26, reads as follows in the Amplified Bible Version:
14What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it]? Can [such] faith save [his soul]?
15If a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day,
16And one of you says to him, Good-bye! Keep [yourself] warm and well fed, without giving him the necessities for the body, what good does that do?
17So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).
18But someone will say [to you then], you [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith.
19You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man's hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]!
20Are you willing to be shown [proof], you foolish (unproductive, spiritually deficient) fellow, that faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless?
21Was not our forefather Abraham [shown to be] justified (made acceptable to God) by [his] works when he brought to the altar as an offering his [own] son Isaac?
22You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works.
23And [so] the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed in (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on) God, and this was accounted to him as righteousness (as conformity to God's will in thought and deed), and he was called God's friend.
24You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes].
25So also with Rahab the harlot--was she not shown to be justified (pronounced righteous before God) by [good] deeds when she took in the scouts (spies) and sent them away by a different route
26For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead".
Amplified defines "Works" in this context as "deeds and actions of obedience that backs or follows faith". Another version describes it as "Corresponding action". But I like to define it as taking steps in the direction of your faith.
I have had many experiences with God where I am praying for something and after praying, God says to me, now, you have prayed, go and get it done. God wants me to take steps in the direction of my faith. For instance if I had prayed for a job and I am standing in faith, then my deed or action of obedience in line with the faith and prayer is to go out and look for a job. If I had prayed and released my faith for something to go well, then I go and start to do the thing expecting it to get well, in line with the prayer I have prayed.
Notice the following from what James writes in these scriptures:
1. Faith, if it has no deed or actions of obedience is inactive or dead or inoperative and destitute of power. You need to put your legs where your faith is. If you believe God for a change, put your leg in the direction of that change. If you believe God for admission to a university, apply to the university. If you believe God for a job, go look for a job. If you believe God for a change, go make the change happen. Praying may not be a lot of problems for people, the problem or difficulty is in putting your legs where your faith is.
2. Faith is expressed in what you do, not in what you don't do. I have seen many people who are on treatments, for instance, abandon their treatment or even refuse to get treatment because they think that refusing treatment is a way to prove that they have faith for healing. Your faith is not expressed by what you don't do; it is expressed by what you do. I particularly have heard of cases where some women have had complications in child delivery because they refused to have a caesarean section even when obviously all the odds were against natural birth, and the doctor was skilled. They claim that they have been praying and they believe God and so allowing the doctor deliver their baby by CS would be anti-faith. Once again, your faith is not expressed in what you did not do; it is expressed in what you do. James 2: 22 calls it “faith cooperating with works". Your faith is completed and reaches its supreme expression when it is implemented by good works (what you do).
I recall when God got on me about this issue, He said to me, what are you asking for, the process or the answer? I said, the answer, and God said, "Focus on it". What a woman in labour needs is safe delivery, the process is totally unimportant. Focus on the answer. When you begin to pray, God begins to work on the answer and that answer may entail more than you know in your natural thought process.
Let’s say this clearly. Every answer entails a process, James 5:14 says "if anyone is sick let him call the elders of the church and let them pray over him anointing him with oil, and the prayer of faith will save the sick (so much that ) if he had sinned any sin, it will be forgiven him" ( italics, mine). The prayer of faith will completely salvage the situation, whatever it entails (even if it entails all his sins being forgiven).
Every prayer you pray entails a process, and your prayer of faith will completely salvage the situation whatever it entails, even if it entails God bringing you a good doctor, and you having a CS or you having an IVF, whatever it entails.
I recall my wife had 2 miscarriages and we began to pray, and God answered our prayers. He led us to a Doctor who was a consultant gynaecologist. He managed my wife and took time to teach and explain what was happening to us. We have three wonderful children now. We have even been able to use what we learnt to help our friends who also had miscarriages like we did and they now have their own children.
Your prayer may entail you changing town, changing business, changing work place or even changing friends. Don't be stuck with your own ways, be open to take the take steps in the line of your prayer and faith and move forward.
3. Faith is made perfect/complete by works. Your prayer and faith is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end. The bible says that you will obtain the end of your faith, which is the salvation (soteria) of your soul. The goal of your prayer and faith release is to obtain a result. Faith is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. You need to be conscious of it. Why are you standing in faith for a job? I guess it is because you want a job. When you pray and begin to stand in faith, the power of God is released to sort the situation for you, and then you take steps in the direction of your prayer so you can see the result you desire. Let’s take a very simple analogy, someone wants to have his own child and begins to pray and stand in faith, these alone will not provide the child. Children will not drop from heaven. Ova and sperm have to meet then a child will be formed, he needs to get that to happen. The faith process will be incomplete until that work is done, and then faith would have had its full expression. Imagine if the man just kept praying for a child, never went out to adopt one and never got married, he is not going to have a child, even if he stands in faith for eternity. His faith is inoperative until the works is done.
In Mark 4: 26 – 29 Jesus talked about God’s way of doing things, and said that a man sowed seeds in his ground and went about his business, doing what he was supposed to do, day and night and the seed sprang up of its own accord. His seed had to be in the ground first, his faith and his action tied together, cooperating. I had an understanding from the story of the widow of Zarephat in the book of 1 King 17. The Man of God had come to her and asked for water and a little bread, and she had given an answer “I have just a handful, and I am gathering stick so I and my son may eat it and die”, but the prophet said, “Go and do as you have said”, make the cake as you have said, go about your business as a you have said, pay the bills as you have said, “but first of all, make me a little bread, for thus saith the Lord. . .“ Once she got her seed into the ground, as she went about her business, the answer was manifested. The bag of food never ran dry.
Your faith and your actions have to cooperate for you to have manifestation. Imagine if you believe God for a financial change in your life and you don’t get to work, will money just suddenly drop into your pocket. As you go to work, God will begin to bless the work of your hands, open new doors and bring you miracles and new ideas, and the rest becomes history.
4. Faith alone is not sufficient. We have said all the above to say that standing in faith alone is not sufficient. I currently pastor a young church, and we are standing in faith believing God for growth, I know God is leading us in all it entails to have growth which I know will include God releasing grace for growth on our church, we keeping the church doors open, reaching and inviting people to church, managing their total experience, shutting our backdoors by converting them from attendees to members etc., and as we work intelligently and skilfully, the increase will come. So it is not sufficient that I stand in faith alone, I have to also begin to walk in the direction of what it entails to have growth as God puts them in my heart. Faith alone is not sufficient.
Memory Verse: James 2: 26 “For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead".