“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22).
Faith is the most important quality of a prayer that God answers. Faith is that quality that trusts in and clings to God. Faith attracts God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. It is the raw material upon which the answers to our prayers are produced. Need and circumstances do not move God as much as faith. Jesus has promised that whatsoever we ask, if we believe, it shall be granted us.
There are many passages and stories in the Bible which show God’s reaction to faith and to unbelief. Let us examine a few of them.
1. Man Sick of Palsy: Matthew 9:2
“Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.'”
Jesus was ministering to crowds. There came some men carrying a paralytic. Mark 2:1-5 gives us a detailed account of what happened. These men wanted Jesus to heal their sick friend. There was no way to get to Jesus so they made a giant hole at the roof so that their friend could be healed. The house was not theirs. They were visitors. Now that is called faith. Jesus noticed it and acted according to it.
2. The Woman with the Issue of Blood: Mark 5:24-34
“So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?' 'You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, Who touched me?' But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’”
This woman had protracted and profuse menstruation for twelve years. She had suffered much and was treated as an outcast. She had spent all her money on doctors who could not help her. One day she heard of Jesus and pressed her way through the crowd to see him. She touched his garment. Jesus turned around and declared, “Someone has touched me.” Everyone was baffled at the statement.
This is one of the most remarkable stories of the ministry of Jesus. Countless people were pressing on Jesus and nothing happened; yet, one poor woman who believed got Jesus’ attention. The reason is faith. Faith attracts the attention of heaven. It makes God stop everything he is doing and, like Jesus, he says, “Someone is praying.”
3. The Prostitute: Luke 7:48-50
“Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'”
Although she would be rejected by the religious circle of the day, this woman’s faith saved her.
Faith in Prayer
God does not answer according to our prayer; he answers according to our faith. Scripture says, “Be it done according to your faith,” “Your faith has made you whole” and “Your faith has saved you.” Hebrews 11:1-2, 6 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for….And 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.”
Faith involves laying hold of things that are invisible. Without faith we can not please or serve God. The summary of ministry or work for God is believing and trusting in him. “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent'” (John 6:29).
Building Our Faith
So how can we build our faith? There are four ways:
- Understand that faith is not just a feeling. Faith is an act of the will. You decide whether to trust or not to trust in someone.
- Meditate on and obey God’s word. Faith can be nurtured by these two elements. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
- Encourage it with the testimony of others.
- Increase faith with the knowledge of God. The more we know God, the more we trust and believe in him. We can say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him” (13:15).
Unbelief, on the other hand, limits God. Where there is unbelief there are limitations to what God does.
Jesus Visits Nazareth: Matthew 13:54-58
“Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed.'Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?' they asked. 'Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?' And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”
The Bible shows us that God is mighty. There is nothing too difficult for him. And although Jesus did miracles in various places, when he came to his hometown, he could not do many miracles because of unbelief. My prayer is that we shall all believe. If you believe, nothing—absolutely nothing—shall be impossible for you.