Faith and it’s relationship to prayer has been a topic of much personal thought as of late. Especially during the past year-and-a-half as God has chosen to give me debilitating health. What is the prayer of faith?
The prayer of faith is most easily understood by first examining what it is not. It is not some level of spiritual giftedness where one can earnestly trust, with no exception, that his or her exact request will be answered. Some truly believe that they can expect most anything of God when they pray because they are somehow “specially gifted with unusual faith.” Can we truly know how God is going to work in the future? Can we claim to know what God’s will is concerning any matter other than what He has already promised in His Word? There are definitely times when the Holy Spirit gives us a type of peace and assurance that God will work in a specific way, but these moments are the exception rather than the rule. Besides, the claim it methodology of prayer is not how Jesus prayed.
We are given a great example of the true prayer of faith in the garden. Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying knowing that He was about to be arrested and eventually crucified. We can be certain (because of who He is) that Jesus demonstrated complete and perfect faith with every word of His request during that famous prayer. Also note that there has arguably never been a more passionate prayer than when our Savior produced sweat drops of blood as he bowed before His Father that night. So what did Jesus pray? According to Mark 14:36 He prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36 KJV).
This is the real prayer of faith! Jesus prayer that night in the garden teaches us some important nuances of how to pray.
Notice, first of all, that if we are to pray as Jesus prayed then we should not be demanding a specific result. Certainly we should tell God our request, but with the petition we should also give the disclaimer – “Not my will but thine be done.” You see, the true prayer of faith is prayed when we honestly believe that God’s ultimate plans will be better than our request. In my own life, I have found that this is not an easy state of heart to come to. It often requires a prolonged battle with my own flesh. It requires a time of struggle between my carnal mind and the truths of Scripture. This type of battle is only won by the Christian who’s whole heart (the center of our being including the mind, will, AND emotions) is in a quiet state of surrender. Only then can we truly say, “God, whatever you want is what I want.” Even if God’s answer and ultimate will comes at great personal costs to us.
Now comes the exciting part…
Once we have emptied ourselves of our own desires and expectations then we can begin to expect some things of God. What can we ask of God which we can believe, by faith, to absolutely come true? Answer: what God has already promised in His Word. So, what has God promised? Well, we can pray believing that God will answer in a way and in a time that is BEST for us (Romans 8:28). Also, we can and should pray believing that God will do over and above what our original expectations are or ever could be (Ephesians 3:20). I like what it says in Psalm 65:5, “By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the far-off seas.” (Psalm 65:5 NKJV). I like that. When we pray, we can be confident that God will answer through His awesome deeds in righteousness!
One might say, “I know these theological truths intellectually but my emotions betray my doubt.” Dear friend, do not doubt. Remember what Jesus said before his statement of surrender. He affirmed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee.” God is indeed powerful enough to answer your requests and then some!
So, having pondered this prayer of Jesus we can conclude that the true prayer of faith might look something like this:
“Lord, if you want to grant this request you can, but if You do not then it is best. May You please intervene in such a way that will BEST glorify yourself.”
When we pray with this attitude of faith God will not disappoint. Just look at how the answer to Jesus’ request turned out. Certainly God was glorified in the end! By the way, God’s answer was also the best thing for us was it not? We are the redeemed that were cleansed by the suffering of “the cup” that was to be Christ’s beginning that night in the garden.
What trials has God allowed into your life lately? What are the burdens and requests that you so fervently desire for God to do on your behalf? What is the plight that tends to give you constant worry?
Personally, my family and I have been so humbled to know of many people’s prayers for us. This battle with the neurological and heart damage inside my body has drastically changed every aspect of our lives. We are certainly humbled and so very grateful to all who have prayed and are praying. We sense the prayers as God has sustained us and blessed us day-by-day. We are so humbled yet grateful for the love others have shown to us. God does not seem to be choosing to heal my body – at least not yet. Nevertheless, if God never chooses to heal me then it actually makes me kind of excited for what better and more eternally valuable things God has in store. God has stretched us, taught us, and shown Himself to be so good already. Indeed, there is no improvement on the will of God.
In conclusion, I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:6 which says that God, ”...is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Do you believe that? Oh may our expectations be of Him! Whatever He chooses to do (or not to do) will be AWESOME!