Prayer and Faith
By Larry White
We have all experienced a lack of faith at one time or another in our lives as Christians. We may not even have recognized the problem. But I am persuaded that any personal problem in our spiritual lives that we might face, no matter what the scope or particulars, that problem can be attributed directly or indirectly to a lack of faith on our part or another's, which usually is born of a lack of study and meditation in God's word.
One of the more common problems, I think we all experience is unanswered prayer. We usually rationalize this situation by saying that it must not have been God's will and therefore he said "No". Now I don't deny that God will say No to some petition that we might request that is outside his will revealed to us in his word. But is this really the problem when prayer after prayer we just can't seem to make that needed contact; to really step within the veil and draw near to God; and the world of our problems seems to go on in its uncontrolled and random course of sorrow and disappointment, and our father in heaven doesn't ever seem to step in with his loving help? We should take stock of our own condition of heart. That could be the problem. Do we have the faith we need? James said that if a man doubts or wavers in his prayer he shouldn't expect to receive anything from the Lord, (Jam.1:6‑7). He must ask in faith. But faith in what? I already believe in God. What do I lack yet?
First, maybe faith that God actually hears and is listening to us. Great power can be added to our prayers when we have the faith that we are actually talking to God our father and that he is listening to us. We can have the confidence that he hears us if we keep his word. John said, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." (1 Jno. 3:22) And again, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (1 Jno.5:14‑15)
This type of confidence or faith is the result of doing the will of God. If we are aware that we are not doing something we know that God would have us do, or if we are doing something with which we know he would be displeased, then we can't have that confidence. As Isaiah said, our sins have hidden his face from us so that he will not hear. So may I suggest: teach that neighbor, visit that one in need, stop and overcome that particular sin, draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you. God hears the prayers of his children. If we have the confidence that we are his children, we can expect God to hear our petitions. If we've done the will of God in becoming Christians and remaining Christians, then we can be sure he is listening to us. So, have confidence!
Second, maybe we do not realize the possibilities. Jesus said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes." In our praying we should not limit God by asking only what we think is possible. When Jesus had dried up the fig tree with a word and his disciples marveled, he said," Have faith in God. Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, 'Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea'; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says. Therefore what things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them." (Matt.11:22‑24) The only limit here, therefore, is in what we can believe that God will do for us. Most of our prayers barely scratch
the surface of what is possible. Jesus said all things are possible; do we believe that? Here also is the confidence; we can believe to the extent that we not only expect to receive what we've asked, but to believe we have already received it.
Third, maybe we need faith and personal trust that God cares about our problems and needs, and is willing to help.
Jesus asked concerning our own dealings with our own children; "If a son ask bread will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?", (Matt.7:9-11). God is willing to supply our needs when we ask in faith. "Casting all your anxiety upon him for he cares for you." (1 Pet.5:7) The confidence we should have is that Christ is our great High Priest and understands all our problems. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we my obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb.4:16) Faith makes prayer strong. Faith lays hold of the help and loving compassion of God. We must "believe that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb.11:6)
God is able (faith that all things are possible) and willing to give help (faith in his concern and care for us) to those who love him and keep his commandments (faith and confidence that God hears us).
Faith gives life to our prayers. It affords an avenue by which God can really be in our life and be a very present help in time of trouble. Faith grows by reading and meditating on God's word. We can set our goal for a stronger faith and God will help us obtain it. Our prayers can be a rich source of strength and assurance and communion with God, if we would but have faith.
"Now to him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Eph. 3:20‑21)