Are Miracles Possible Today?
God still answers prayers and is willing to perform miracles today just as He did in Biblical times. I base this view primarily on what the Bible says about the unchanging nature of the Lord and His Word, such as "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). However, I have also personally seen and experienced miracles as a result of prayer, thus I can attest that such supernatural things do in fact occur.
Interestingly, a lot of others seem to share these views too. Lee Strobel, author of the book, The Case for Miracles, says that his research has shown that nearly two out of five adults in the U.S. (38%) claim that God has performed at least one miracle for them personally. This is quite an amazing figure, around 95 million people! Further, he says two out of three (67%) believe that miracles are possible today, and a little more than half (51%) believe that the miracles of the Bible occurred literally as described.1
However, how do we define a miracle? In the terminology of scripture, there are several words translated as miracle, which convey the general idea of astonishing wonders that defy natural explanation, or dynamic works that demonstrate God’s power, etc. Of the miracles described in the New Testament, most occurred instantaneously, right before their very eyes. Jesus, for instance, performed numerous miracles, such as of healings, expelling demons, raising persons from the dead. He even walked on the water, calmed a storm, and performed astonishing acts of provision such as feeding of the 5,000. Likewise, His Apostles such as Peter and Paul, were also anointed in such a way to perform the miraculous, most likely associated with what Paul described as a "gift of miracles," given by the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:10).
But even though an answer to prayer may not occur instantly or seem spectacular, its impact may be no less miraculous. In other words, what we interpret as a miracle or a supernatural intervention by God, can be a very subjective thing. Sometimes it may only be perceived as a miracle by the one for whom it occurs. For example, I’ve received numerous answers to prayers in my lifetime, many of which seemed like miracles. Interventions with problems that were impossible for me to overcome, or things I could not accomplish on my own. But those who didn’t witness these things, may not have been able to see how miraculous they were to me. And because such miracles can sometimes occur across an extended period of time, they may even be overlooked by those who benefit from them.
A Gradual Miracle
Such was the case with a fellow I prayed for in an emergency room decades ago. It began with an alarming late-night phone call, during the early months of my first pastorate. It was from Paula, a hospital emergency room nurse who attended our church. She regularly prayed for persons brought to the ER, and asked if I could come and join her in prayer for a young man who had been brought in from a horrible wreck, not expected to live.
I was glad to come pray, but wasn’t really prepared to see his shocking condition. There in the bed laid the mangled body of an unconscious young male, hooked up with tubes and wires to every conceivable life-support contraption. The police said that while parking and exiting his car along a highway, Tom, a 20-year-old from the local community, stepped directly into the path of a semi-truck which hit and ran over him with its wheels. I overheard them say that none of the emergency responders had ever seen a victim injured this severely without being killed.
Tom’s body had been literally crushed and contorted. All his limbs and major bones were broken, and the internal damage to his organs was massive and devastating. After trying desperately to save his life, the doctors concluded that his injuries were beyond repair. There was nothing more they could do, and believed that his death was imminent.
When I arrived and joined with Paula to pray for Tom, his fate was a forgone conclusion... but despite the grim odds, we prayed for a miracle. I knew nothing about him, but from what I gathered he had apparently been under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, and I assumed that he did not know Christ. Without God’s intervention, his premature death would not be the only tragedy, but to face eternity apart from Christ’s forgiveness and salvation would be horrendous.
This was what motivated me most to pray and ask God for the impossible... for the soul of this young man. Not only is God a miracle maker (Matthew 19:26), but I also know how much He loves mankind, and doesn’t want anyone to be lost, as He’s “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). My plea to the Lord that night, was to give Tom another chance, that he might hear the Gospel, turn to Christ and be saved.
The following day I received a call from Paula, who told me that Tom had survived the night. The doctors were surprised, but still gave no hope of survival, as his injuries were too severe. But returning to the hospital, we prayed for him again, and to our joy he survived another night, and then another... which was beginning to cause the doctors to take notice. He remained in a coma, and they still believed that his condition was hopeless, but were now at least willing to keep looking for ways they might save him.
By this time, we had other folks praying for Tom in our church, and day after day his survival kept surprising the hospital staff. The doctors could not understand why he was still alive, but were pleased when his body began responding to their efforts. After the first week or so, they upgraded their outlook, giving him a slim chance of survival, which continued to improve slightly each day. Every time we came to pray, we would hear of more modest improvements... and after many days, he regained consciousness, and eventually began to speak.
Over the weeks, I made it a frequent routine to go visit and pray for Tom, whom the doctors now conceded that with extensive surgeries and treatment, would probably survive. But when they cautioned that he could never possibly walk again or live a normal life, I just smiled, knowing how far God had already brought him, and I didn’t believe the Lord had any reason to stop answering our prayers now.
I had many chats with Tom about Jesus and His promise of salvation, and spoke with him about the numerous prayers that God had honored to help his survive. But to my amazement, Tom, who had no prior spiritual background, found it hard to accept God’s miraculous intervention. He continued to think that his improvement was more to the credit of doctors and the hospital, which of course, God used in this process. But he never really understood that they had initially abandoned all hope and left him to die, and it was only an act of God’s intervention that saved his life.
After many months I was reassigned to pastor a different congregation in a distant state, but before relocating, I went to visit Tom for a last time. I wasn’t surprised to hear that he was now in physical therapy, showing signs that he might regain the ability to walk again. Indeed, while not instantaneous, God had answered scores of prayers, and performed a remarkable miracle in Tom’s life. And I am hopeful that he eventually came to recognize that, appreciating the daily miracle of life that God restored to him.
In my view, this was nothing less than a miracle... a kind that happens a lot in response to prayers. But because such things may occur over a progression of time, people sometimes fail to see the big picture of God’s involvement. The fact is, God answers prayer and performs miracles every day... and if only through small day-to-day increments, the eventual result is no less miraculous than if it occurred immediately. God also answers daily prayer for so many subtle or unnoticed things behind the scenes, to guide us, protect us, and to bring about His plan for our life. How thankful we should always be, for the unseen things God is doing in our behalf.
Probably the greatest miracle of all is the conversion of a soul. When a person’s life is transformed by Christ, they assume a brand-new life, completely different than before. The view of the secular world is that this is impossible... that “people never change” any more than a “tiger can change his stripes.” But even as Jesus transformed the murderer Saul, into the mighty Apostle Paul, Christ continues today to save and transform the lives of those who come to Him. “...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Some think that it’s unrealistic, or that it builds false hopes, to encourage persons to pray for miraculous things. However, I don’t find that viewpoint in the New Testament... just the opposite. The scriptures recount story after story of faith-building miracles, along with the repeated encouragements by Jesus and His Apostles, to believe for the impossible. Jesus said, “...Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:22-24).
Tom’s remarkable recovery over many months was nothing short of a miraculous answer to prayer. But now I want to share an astonishing instantaneous miracle that I watched the Lord perform a few years back.
An Instantaneous Miracle
While pastoring a church in California, I invited an evangelist who was especially known for healings and spiritual gifts that accompanied his ministry. During the week he preached in our nightly meetings, I assisted him in praying for folks who came to the altars for various needs. And by the week’s end, dozens had testified to having received healing or other results from prayer.
Finally, in the last service, a woman brought her elderly mother to the altar for prayer. I knew them both and had previously visited and prayed with the mom. She was severely disabled and could barely walk, because one leg was a few inches shorter than the other.
When the evangelist heard this, he asked one of our elders to get a chair for the mother, and lift both her legs onto another chair facing her. When that was done, everyone could see that her left leg was considerably shorter than the other. It was a very moving moment for the congregation to see her disability, and many began praying quietly that the Lord might bring His healing power.
However, instead of approaching the woman to pray for her, as he had done with others, the evangelist pulled away and prayed privately for a few moments. I waited for him to return, so that I could assist him in praying. But I was surprised when he didn’t, and made an unexpected statement instead.
Speaking into his mic so all could hear, he said, “Pastor, the Lord has shown me that He wants to use you to pray for this sister today, both to help her and to do something special in your life. In times past, He used your prayers of faith and authority in mighty ways, and He wants you to return to that kind of praying... so He can use you in even greater ways.”
Needless to say, I was stunned. I wasn’t prepared to hear a prophetic word that involved me... nor was I expecting to pray alone for this disabled person. I didn’t know how to respond, except to turn toward the woman and prepare to pray for her. But the evangelist interrupted once more, leaving me speechless by what he said next.
“Pastor, there’s no need to do anything else,” He said.“Just point your hand toward her, and in faith, command her shorter leg to ‘come forth.’” When I heard this, I was shocked! “What did he say again?! I’m just supposed to command her leg... to what?” I certainly didn’t doubt that the Lord could heal this woman, but the evangelist was telling everyone that a miracle was about to happen... one that I’d never seen before, and that the Lord was somehow going to use “me” to be a part of it!
At this point, every eye turned toward me, to see what I was going to do. For a moment, I was tempted to think that the evangelist had gone bonkers. However, I had seen his genuineness with God, and observed true gifts of the Holy Spirit operating through him. I was confident he wasn’t trying to do anything weird, but had every expectation that we were about to witness a demonstration of God’s mighty power. And so, I quickly decided, that’s what I would believe too.
I first crouched down maybe 24 inches or so from the elderly mom’s short leg, to get a close view of anything that might happen, while one of our elders stood watching at my side. The woman sat still in the chair, listening and observing, while her daughter stood behind with hands on her shoulders. The congregation grew silent, then without touching her, I lifted my hand, pointed at her left leg and spoke out with an authoritative tone. “In the name of Jesus... Come Forth!”
At the precise moment that I said this, her leg suddenly launched forward in a smooth fluid motion, as though a hydraulic lever had been pulled! While she remained motionless in the chair, her leg continued growing out from the sleeve of her slacks, about a half inch per second, until it reached the same length as the other. It was the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen!
While we began praising and thanking the Lord, I looked up briefly at the elder beside me… a look of shock was frozen on his face, his mouth was still hanging open in amazement. Those sitting near the front who had seen this, were also stunned... as was I. Not that I doubted that God could or would do such a thing, but it was that I actually SAW the “process” of it happening before my eyes. What blew me away me most, was the precise “timing” of what occured. It was neither a millisecond before, nor a millisecond afterward... but at the exact moment that I uttered the words “Come forth.” Her leg responded instantly, without delay or lag, growing out at the same smooth constant rate!
I’d never seen anything like it... the close-up observation of a miracle as it happened in real-time. And it was obvious that God meant for this miracle to not only bless this dear woman, but also to make an impact on me personally... to reawaken my faith, and draw me to a deeper place of prayer and humility.
The miracle did exactly that, and literally changed my life… although not immediately. It took a while to ponder and process what I had witnessed, but I eventually heard the Lord telling me to humble myself before Him with a lifestyle of prayer with fasting, so that I would grow more intimate toward Him... and so He could bring that same kind of anointing and use my prayers in greater ways for Him. This is really what prayer with fasting is about... “spiritual intimacy.” Not merely to get answers to prayers. It’s a spiritual discipline to submit and “humble self” before the Lord, to allow Him and the influence of His Spirit to increase, while the influence of our self-willed flesh is decreased.
The greatest obstacle to seeing miracles today, is the same as it's always been, unbelief. If we can manage to get our skeptical self out of the way, and believe that God's Word and promises are really true, anything is possible. Andrew Murray once wrote, “Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, above all that we ask or think.”2
When praying for what seems like impossible things, consider these faith-building passages:
“Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).
“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
“So Jesus said to them, ...for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ’Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:20-21).
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19).
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:7-11 NLT).
1 Do Miracles Happen?: An Interview with Lee Strobel, Bible Gateway, 2018