Faith is often understood in general terms as a religious belief system. Being a person of faith can, of course, include the fact that a person prays, goes to church, reads the Bible, and so on. But there is an important element that many church people miss.
The Bible says that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of what is not seen (Hebrews 11:1) and this must be pretty important if we are also told that, without faith, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6)! Abraham demonstrated such faith when he became fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised in the giving of a son despite his old age (Romans 4:21).
This is the key for us. Being fully persuaded that God’s Word is inherently powerful as to represent His will and His outcome for our lives. Now this is no ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ theology that allows us to read into the Bible whatever we might selfishly crave. Rather it is God speaking through the pages of the Bible to breathe to life for us that which He wants to say as we meditate upon the words He gave to the original writers.
It is precisely this approach which has seen lives changed. It has seen businesses turn around. It has seen people physically healed. One lady told me in great distress that she had been praying for her nephew to become a Christian for over ten years. I asked her how she had prayed and it amounted to little more than desperation. Desperation is good, even commendable, but it is like shooting blanks. At risk of making prayer formulaic – God can answer whatever and however He likes – faith is the punch that prayer needs and the foundation of answered prayer. When I helped the lady to explore what God might want to say about her nephew and to pray prayers based upon God’s Word, there was a turnaround. She excitedly reported within days that he had finally given his life over to God.
If blabbing-and-grabbing represents the sum-total of faith praying in the minds of some, then it would be little wonder that they had thrown out the baby with the bathwater and perhaps seen little power in their prayer. Of course the results are up to God and not us, but I know that the results are far more fruitful in those who have grabbed this principle, explored the Bible as a living and dynamic commentary on their lives, and then launched it like the weapon that it claims to be, one which is mighty to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).