In the January edition, we learned from author and Bible teacher Jerry Bridges that prayer must be prayed in Jesus’ name. In February, we learned that we must pray according to God’s will. This month we look at what it means to pray in faith.
In the Book of Matthew, chapter 21 and verse 22, the Bible says: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God”—and that’s what we’re doing when we pray—”must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
Many people have struggled with this question: How can I pray in faith if I’m not absolutely certain that what I’m asking for is in accordance to the will of God? The reason we struggle is that our faith is misplaced. We think that we somehow have to work our faith up to the place where God will answer a particular prayer.
But that is not the case. The object of our faith is the person of God Himself; not our faith. When I do not have faith, I’m saying one of two things: either God cannot answer this prayer or God will not answer this prayer. If I say He cannot, I’m questioning His sovereignty and His power. If I say He will not, I’m questioning His goodness. To pray in faith means that I believe God can and I believe God will insofar as it’s consistent with His glory, because God is good.
Sometimes we pray and we ask God for something, and immediately we start reasoning why God can’t answer the prayer. Let me give you an illustration. Once I went to speak at a little church out in the country. My wife was with me, and on the way to the church, we got caught in a blinding sandstorm. You know what happens to windshields when you get caught in blinding sandstorms. We came out of that sandstorm with the windshield all pitted. Now, I could have gone to a repair shop and my comprehensive insurance plan would have paid for a new windshield—except for the $50 deductible.
The problem was that in our state of affairs at that particular time, we just didn’t have an extra $50 that we felt we could spare for a new windshield. And so I put this on my prayer list. “God, I need $50 for a new windshield.” Now, when you pray a prayer similar to that, and I’m sure that all of you have had similar situations, what’s the very first thing you start thinking of? You wonder: How can God answer this prayer? Where can God put His hand on $50? We start to think that God’s in just about as dire a strait as we are because we can’t think of any place where God could put His hand on $50.
And so, we don’t have faith. We do not have faith because we do not see how God can answer. That means that our faith is not in the power of God; it’s in our own creativity, our own imagination. So, the truth is that we pray and ask God for something, and if we can figure out how God can answer, then we have lots of faith. But if we can’t think of any way in the world where God can get His hand on $50, then we don’t have much faith. We’re just sort of hoping that maybe God’s got an idea that we haven’t yet thought of.
It’s very interesting how God supplied the $50 we needed for the windshield, but I won’t go into that now. Suffice it to say that He did. And sure enough, if I had sat down and had spent one day drafting various scenarios of ways in which God might answer that prayer, I would never in all of my life have come up with the specific way in which He supplied that $50, but within days the money was in the bank and just waiting for me to get the time to take the car in to get the windshield replaced. The point is that our faith has to be in God, not in our own imagination.
When Mary went to Jesus at the wedding at Cana, and she told Him that the host was out of wine, they had a brief conversation, and then she turned to the servants and said: “Do whatever He asks you to do.”
Mary had never seen Jesus turn water into wine. In fact, she had never seen Him work any miracle, because the Scriptures say this was His first miracle. But she knew that He was the Son of God and that He was omnipotent. He had all power.
We must believe that He exists, that He is God. That He is Almighty God. That He is not limited by anything that we can think of. And then we must believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him and believe that He is good. ©2013 Jerry Bridges
Jerry Bridges has been a staff member with the Navigators for more than 50 years.
Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Look for Part 4 of this series in next month’s Decision, as we consider how to pray with persistence.