Do I doubt when I pray or do I believe I have already received what I asked for in prayer?
22 "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. 23 "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
INSIGHT: Having the foundational faith that God exists is easy for most Christians. Having the functional faith that God can and will do the impossible is not, and yet it is demanded. God uses our faith so that He can move us into action in ways that bring Him glory. We must learn to walk in strong faith in God, if we are to please Him, receive His best for our life, and to glorify Him (Heb 11:6). Strong faith is like a muscle and must be built over time through a combination of Spirit led risk taking, patiently waiting on God, and seeing God come through over and over again. I don’t meet too many Christians today that have strong functional faith in God, because for many it is quite easy to get along just fine without God. Who wants to take risk when they don’t have to? This is the devil’s sales pitch for sure, because he knows what happens to a Christian who learns to live by faith. There are mistakes made along the journey as we mishear God, get ahead of His timing, manipulate our circumstances, put Him to the test, or shrink back in fear/doubt as we focus on the circumstances rather than God. Our human reasoning is the strongest obstacle to faith in God. Every single blessing in my life right now, and the major promises I have from God for the near future, are a result of strong faith in God and abandonment of my human reasoning. Human reasoning doesn’t often give permission to move away from your children, fire your divorce attorney, put your whole future at risk, say no to a $150k job offer when you really need the money, set down your secular work, humble yourself before your persecutor, be willing to be wronged and cheated, or for trusting God to be your soulmate match maker, rather than by your own efforts or man made tools. We don’t get this kind of faith overnight, and we should not look down on others who don’t yet have it, but we should encourage them to step up to it! There is no greater adventure and joy in all of life!
There is great risk in trusting God, but the rewards of a life of faith are incredible. There is no joy like seeing God come through over and over in answer to your prayers. My oldest daughter, Chelsea’s 9th birthday was coming up soon and she and I keep a special birthday date at Carrabbas each year. I was already in full time ministry and trusting God to provide without asking any person for money. I had no money to take her out or buy her anything. With only 3 days until “date night”, I went and got Chelsea and told her that Daddy didn’t have any money and so we needed to pray and ask God to help us for her birthday. We got down on our knees and prayed together. We told no one else, not even Grammy and Papa. The day before her birthday, we were at a picnic at a State park and I received an anonymous envelope with $100 in it. We had the best dinner ever and Chelsea got to experience God’s faithfulness first hand!
Faith of any kind is a gift from God. It is God who gives us the ability to believe Him, but we have a role to play—faith requires risky action. I see no acts of faith in the Bible that didn’t require risk, even if just the risk of losing personal dignity with your own children. God has given you the capacity for faith and you must exercise it through action, as He leads (not by putting God to the test). Faith with action says we believe God is telling the truth and can be trusted. Inaction says we believe God is a liar and cannot be trusted. This is why we can’t please Him without faith, and this is why we can’t be among the righteous without faith (Heb 10:38).