This is something I've been struggling with a lot lately, so bear with me. I come across verses like the following:
Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Mark 11:23-24
And I wonder why I don't see that kind of faith and hence miracles in my own life.
There are lots of other verses just like this. Jesus often spoke of prayer and faith going together. We see throughout Scripture how important Faith is. Paul says Without Faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Of course we know we must have faith in Jesus and His sacrifice for us on the cross in order to be saved. This is the most important faith we can have. But do we really have faith in God for much else?
The Bible is full of promises for the believer. For health, finances, jobs, relationships, food, clothing, marriage, children, loved ones, etc. The list goes on. But I keep asking myself and God, why are so many Christians sick, destitute, miserable, stuck in bad marriages, job less? If God promises to meet our every need, what's going on?
The answer I always received was Faith. You see, so many people pray to the Lord, lift up their requests, but when they get up off their knees and go about their day, they don't actually, truly, in their hearts believe God will answer. Instead, they hope He will. I honestly believe one of the biggest problems in Western Christianity is a lack of faith. Hope is a wonderful thing. The Bible says it is an anchor that keeps us steady, but it's the bedrock of faith in which hope is anchored. Without that faith, our hope is running loose and ineffective.
If you search the Gospels for the miracles Jesus did, they were always done for people who had faith.
- Matthew 8:9-11: To the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel
- And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven. Matthew 9:2
- But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” Matthew 9:22
- Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” 9:29
- Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” Matthew 15:25
- And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Mark 10:52
- And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:19
Conversely, if people didn't have faith, they weren't healed
Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:57
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith Matthew 17:19-20
Hope is an expectation of good things to come.
Faith is knowing you already have them.
Hope is in the head and requires no action.
Faith is in the heart and requires an action.
James says faith without works is dead. Of course we apply that mainly to our salvation. If you say you have faith in Jesus, there should be some action, some fruit, some evidence of that. Yet, if you say you have faith Jesus will heal you or get you a job, you must also act on that faith. Faith requires an action. I challenge you to read through the Scriptures every time Jesus or the Apostles performed a miracle, the person had to do something to express their belief... whether it was something verbal (as in the centurion who told Jesus if he merely said the word, his servant would be healed) or some action (as in the woman with the issue of blood who pressed through the crowd to touch Jesus) Or a simple action such as Jesus saying "stretch out your hand" or the apostles saying "Get up and walk". If the person hadn't stretched out his hand or gotten up and tried to walk, I guarantee, they wouldn't have been healed. They each acted on their faith. We must do that too.
But more often than not we pray namby pamby prayers and then walk away hoping God will answer. Not only is this not pleasing to God, most of the time it stops Him from answering your prayer. I'm not saying He doesn't answer prayers sometimes if we don't have faith, nor am I saying that He won't work with us even if our faith is weak. All I'm saying is that if you want to live a life of victory and claim all the promises of God, you need to have faith, and you need to act on that faith.
Search the Scriptures for God's promises for your particular situation or problem. Read Deuteronomy 28, which lists all the blessings God longed to pour out on Israel. And since we are grafted into Israel, we can claim those blessings too. There's also tons of other promises throughout Scripture. As you are reading and studying, guess what will happen?
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
You are hearing the word of God, and hence your faith is growing. This is how you gain faith! So if your faith is weak, this is the answer to make it strong.
Find your promise, see if there is any condition attached to it. In other words, before you can stand on faith for a promise, you must be living your life for the Lord. You must be walking in obedience and in the Holy Spirit. If you've met that condition, then pray for your problem using the Scripture you found and pray in faith. Something like this
Father, it says in your Word that ............... I am your child and as far as I know, I'm walking in obedience to You and Your Word. Therefore I'm asking You to ......... according to Your Word.
Then recite the Scripture, and start praising God for the answer. Thank Him over and over. Your thankfulness is also an act of faith. Another act of faith is not to worry about this problem any more. When it pops into your mind, thank God for answering. Don't talk about it with others and don't complain about it. Just keep praising God, even though you may not see the answer right away or even for many months. During this time, ask God to strengthen your faith and keep reading the Bible!
I know this is a long post and I'm sorry. This is just such an important topic. Quit praying weak prayers like "If it is your will, then..." God won't answer those type of prayers, unless there is NO promise in the Bible about whatever you're dealing with.
Having said all of this, I know that we, as Christians, go through various trials and temptations, and even persecutions in this world. I'm not talking about these times. God allows them for a season for our own growth in Him and to glorify His name to others. But they shouldn't be a permanent condition in our lives. In other words, according to the Bible, Christians should not be living in poverty, constantly sick, depressed, anxious, have continual marriage issues, unemployment, etc. There are promises for all these things in the Scripture.
In fact, I heard a preacher say recently that we Christians should be so filled with joy that we are like sponges. When you squeeze us only more love and joy come out!
The more I study the Scripture and talk with God, the more I've come to realize that my prayers are only hindered by two things. Faith and lifestyle (living in the will and the Spirit of God)
Do we no longer believe God's promises? Do we merely hope that He will answer us? None of the miracles that Jesus or the Apostles preformed were done with weak "If it is your will..." prayers. They were all done by commands in the name of Jesus, coupled with faith and action.
I'm still struggling to understand all of this myself, so forgive me if I've upset you or made you feel as though you are doing something wrong. Not my intention. But I know one thing. I want to have the kind of faith that moves mountains. Lord knows, we have some mountains that need moving in this world today!