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-- © GodSpeak International 2003 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>
Editor: Elvi Glass

Prayer-School Course #22

Creating A Culture For Answered Prayer

Lesson 7

Fostering Faith

By Teresa Seputis

If we want to create an atmosphere that is conducive to seeing God answer our prayers on a regular and consistent basis, we need to make sure that atmosphere is free of the hindrances to getting our prayers answered. We already discussed the most common hindrances in the previous lesson -- unforgiveness and disunity. However, there are some other key hindrances we must eliminate:

The best way to eliminate something is to emphasize and foster the opposite of what you want to eliminate. Therefore, to eliminate these hindrances to effective prayer, we want to create an atmosphere that fosters:

  • Forgiveness and Unity
  • Faith In God
  • Boldness In Prayer
  • Obedience
  • Putting Our Finances Under God's Lordship
  • This lesson will look at the area of faith.


    There is a lot of confusion about the role of faith in prayer. We know that faith is important because the Bible says "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb 11:6). And we know that faith is important in seeing our prayers get answered. James 1:6-7 makes that clear. It says, "but let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord" (NKJV). And when Jesus healed the blind men in Matthew 9:29, He said, "According to your faith let it be to you."

    These verses, and many others in the bible, make it clear to us that it is very important to have faith if we want to see God answer our prayers. Yet faith remains a very confusing thing to many people. What is it and what is it in?

    I once heard a sermon that said that we needed to have 100% confidence that God was going to heal a person before we should pray for them. Faith was defined as 100% confidence that God will do what we are asking Him to do. I have heard people teach that if we need something and we don't get it from God, that means we don't have enough faith; because if we had enough faith then it would move God to give us what we ask Him for. Taken to extremes, I have even seen some denominations tell people who are sick and dieing of cancer that they have insufficient faith, or God would have healed them. In other words, if anything goes wrong in your life, it means the problem is your fault because you don't have enough faith.

    Personally, I disagree strongly with that orientation. There are times when our prayers are not answered because of lack of faith on our part. There are also times when things seem to "go wrong" because we are undergoing spiritual warfare, or possibly because God has us in the refiner's fire (character development) for a season. And there are times when nature simply takes it's course. For instance, a person who smoked for 30 years before accepting Christ develops lung cancer because of his past of smoking and what it does to the lungs. It is true that God can supernaturally heal people of that sort of thing -- but if He chooses not to do so, it may be for some other reason than lack of faith on their part.

    I think it is wrong and abusive to berate or chastise or accuse someone of not having enough faith if they are in a difficult or trying circumstance. That whole concept shows a lack of understanding of the nature of God and of the nature of faith. It assumes that we are putting our faith in our own ability to trust God rather than putting our faith in God and in His character/goodness/power. It is a mild form of idolatry where people look to themselves to somehow muster up enough faith instead of looking to God as their source and substance. This is self-promotion instead of God promotion -- and it is both wrong and displeasing to God. When we put our faith in our own ability (even in our ability to trust God), we are looking to our own resources. We need to forget about ourselves and put our faith and attention in God's faithfulness.

    True faith is not 100% certainly that God is going to do something. (Sometimes God gives us that certainty, and that is nice to have. But that type of absolute certainty is not a requirement for moving in faith.) Rather, faith is trusting in God's faithfulness to keep His promises to the point were we step out on them. John Wimber of the Association of Vineyard Churches used to say, "How do you spell Faith? It is spelled: R - I - S - K." In other words, we take a risk based on what we know of God and His character and nature and promises and we hope fervently that He will meet us -- as we act in faith or as we pray in faith. In other words, we take a risk because we know we serve a good and loving and powerful God.

    So, how does all of this relate to prayer? You don't have to have 100% certainty that God will answer the prayer... but it should seem like a "real possibility" to you that He will based on His goodness, His desire to give good gifts to His children (Matt 7:11) and on His promises that when we ask in Jesus' name, the Father will do what we ask (John 14:13-14, John 15:16, John 16:23-24) How much faith do we need? We need enough faith to know that God is faithful to His promises, that He did not lie when He told us to ask Him for things. We need enough faith to go ahead and pray with the expectancy that God probably will answer the prayer.

    I am reminded of the story from Acts 12 when Peter and James were imprisoned. James was killed and they were planning to execute Peter shortly after that. James death caused the church to mobilize and pray for God to rescue Peter. Acts 12:5 says, "Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church" (NKJV). And angel showed up and rescued Peter from prison. Poor Peter did not have tremendous faith for this -- he thought he was seeing a vision instead of God really rescuing him and sparing his life. Acts 5:9 records, "So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision." It did not become real to Peter until the angel led him outside of the court and down the street, and then disappeared, leaving Peter standing by himself in the middle of the street!

    The people praying did not seem to have a certainty that God would rescue Peter -- in fact, they were very surprised when God did it! Acts 12:13-16 records, "And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, 'You are beside yourself!' Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, 'It is his angel.' Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished."

    This story from Peter's life is an example of the difference between faith in God and certainty that God will answer a specific prayer. The people who prayed knew God was powerful and good. They were grieved and shocked over James's execution and that drove them to pray fervently for God to spare Peter. They had a hope that God would do this, but they were not certain that God would actually set Peter free. Faith is not an emotion -- it is not a certainty that a specific prayer will be answered. Rather, it is a confidence that arises out of knowing God and having spent intimacy time with Him. It is a confidence that God is good and that He listens to our prayers and that He delights to give good gifts to His children when they ask Him for them. And that is the type of faith that we need to foster in our churches and Christian communities.

    -- © GodSpeak International 2003 --
    -- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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