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Praying in faith
- Jacob Ninan
There is so much confusion among Christians about praying in faith. Many people think that if they could somehow get their mind to reject all doubts and have only thoughts about getting what they pray for, then they will receive it. This is a silly interpretation of Mk.11:24 and also aiming for an impossible state of mind. They try to repeat 'positive' words to themselves and even get angry with others who might raise some 'negative' ideas. With true faith there is an inner assurance (He.11:1). All this struggle to maintain faith shows that what they have is not genuine. They are actually taking a position that faith is up to them to create and maintain and that once they reach a 'critical mass' God will automatically kick in!
How can we have this assurance that we will receive what we are praying for? When God gives it to us! When God tells us through His word or directly to our heart what He is going to do for us, then we receive faith, and we have the assurance (Ro.10:17). This is the assurance of faith.
But the fact is that we get this kind of assurance comparatively rarely and not every time we pray. Many times we ask, not knowing if our Father is going to give it to us or not, immediately or later, or in the way we expect. This doesn't necessarily mean that we don't have faith. We have faith in the goodness, love, wisdom and power of God, and that is why we ask. This personal trust in God is absolutely necessary for us to be pleasing to God (He.11:6). If this is also coupled with an acceptance of God's will as being the best for us (not my will but Yours, O Lord) we will also experience rest.
Sometimes it also happens that our mind is so confused or pained by our circumstances that we only know how to cry out for help to God. There are many such prayers in the Bible, especially in the Psalms, and we see how God answered such prayers also (Ps.34:6). Our 'faith' may appear to be very small or almost absent at such times, but the fact that we cry out to God indicates our trust in Him.
God's heart is so gracious and large that He does good to even wicked people (including sometimes hearing and answering the cries) (Mt.5:45). When the Bible says that God does not hear the prayers of those who harbour sin in their heart (Ps.66:18), it refers to those who are playing a double game with God. But God does hear the cries of those who seek Him in desperation (Ps.86:5;50:15).
So God tells us to pray at all times and not to give up (Lk.18:1). When He tells us to pray without ceasing (1Th.5:17) it means we shouldn't stop praying, especially if we didn't get an answer immediately.
Prayer to God expresses two things, that we are not sufficient in ourselves and we need Him and that we trust that God is able to help us. It pleases God greatly when we pray. It is our pride or unbelief that stops our praying. But how good to know that we can go to our Heavenly Father like children and ask what all there is in our heart (Jn.15:7)! He truly cares for us.