Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Place of Faith

What is the relationship of faith to prayer? Scripture makes it clear there is a connection between faith and answered prayer (Mark 6:5; James 1:5-7; Matthew 15:28-31). But is faith, then, a method to twist God's arm to get what we want? First, we must we must ask with the right motives and not simply for selfish gain (James 4:3; Psalms 106:15; Isaiah 59:1,2). This alone prevents us from seeing faith in God as a giant vending machine to give us what we want. But even when the faith and attitude are right, there times that God does not do things because they are not according to His will (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Matthew 26:39-46; Jeremiah 7:16). Faith is a factor in God granting answers to prayer, but it does not guarantee the result.

However, we are told that if we have faith as a mustard seed, which is known for its smallness, God will grant our requests (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6; Mark 4:31). And the Greek word for doubt means to waver; it is a strong word. It should be taken as more than the occasional doubt passing through our head, but as real hesitation in trusting God. In fact, God helps beyond the measure of our faith (Acts 12:3-17; Mark 9:23,24; Romans 8:26,27). Often what God does and what prayers He grants are beyond our understanding (Romans 11:33; Isaiah 55:9; 1 Corinthians 3:18).. Why was Peter saved and not James (Acts 12:1,2)? Why did Jesus pick one man (and one who does not show much evidence of real faith) (John 5:2-9)? Why does God heal one leper and not another (Luke 4:27).

There are no easy answers. But whatever is happening, it is not simply a matter of whoever has the most faith getting whatever they want. Rather, we need to be ready to trust God even if things do not go the way we want them to (Proverbs 3:5,6; Habakkuk 3:17,18; 1 Timothy 6:6-8). For there are two kinds of faith: faith to trust God for miracles and faith to trust God even if the miracles do not come. Depending on the circumstances, we need to be willing to have both. Therefore, we should always pray to God, trusting Him that He will give us what is really best (Matthew 7:9,10; 1 Peter 5:7; Ephesians 3:20).


  1. I frankly struggle in this area Mike. Especially in the areas of petition and intercession. I agree with what you write but wonder if prayer is simply a word we use to describe our relationship with God? Perhaps praying without ceasing is a way to describe our walk with God? I am not saying that we should not intercede or offer petitions but wonder if those are just small facets of what it means to pray?

    1. This is a complicated area. But I think one of the chief points (if not the chief point) of petitions is to build our relationship with God. God knows what we need and could give it without our asking. But He wants us to ask so we will recognize who it is that supplies our needs. At least that is how I see it.