Years ago, I had a minister friend whose wife was in the process of giving birth to their first child. There were severe complications and the doctors gave no hope for the child to live. He walked into the waiting room and shared this news with family members. As they struggled in prayer for the life of this child, my friend cried out and said, “God, if this baby dies today, I’ll still preach on faith tomorrow!” He so believed in the sovereignty of God that He knew He was trustworthy regardless of the outcome. The Lord triumphed over death, and the baby lived!
I am a firm believer in the importance and power of prayer. Yet occasionally, I ask myself some soul- searching questions about how truly convinced I am that God will answer when I pray—what is the measure of my faith? How do I pray when faced with the death of infants or early death of dear friends, a family member dealing with prescription drug abuse, friends with marital struggles, churches and nations being torn apart by enemy attack? In Isaiah 43:10–13, the prophet, speaking a Word from the Lord, gives us clear guidelines that begin with the prerequisites for prayer—know God and believe Him.
The basic definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” Faith means learning to trust God for what we cannot see with our visible eyes. It means learning to think and act on the principles and promises of the Word regardless of how things appear. We are challenged to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Essentially, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Unquestionably, no one is perfect. Maybe we are doing our best, and certainly God understands, but this does not alter the fact that unless we are walking by faith in God, His plan, and provision, we are missing the abundant life Christ offers. Our best faith is not what God wants. He wants faith in His best—the Lord Jesus—His very own Son and the fullness of blessing He has made available for us in Christ. Renown author on prayer, E. M. Bounds, says, “Faith is kept alive by prayer,” and “faith creates powerful praying.”
We can be saved and serve in ministry for years and never move beyond safe, kindergarten prayers—generic prayers that cover such a broad territory that we wouldn’t really know if they were answered or not. We believe God, but we are just a little bit (or a whole lot) afraid of looking foolish if we pray too specifically, and the answers don’t come like we have prescribed. God doesn’t want us to just believe in Him. He wants us to believe Him. Believe Him when He says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3). I feel Him challenging me: “It’s time to move out of the safe zone when you pray!”