Volume 33

E. Michal Gayer
Volume 33

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“…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
(Hebrews 11:6)

Faith and Prayer

Devotional TeachingsOver the last months, we have taken a hard look at the subject of faith. Today we continue our study by focusing on the role of faith in prayer especially for those who are sick. Immediately a caution flag goes up because all too often prayer is used as a subterfuge to substitute for a lack of faith or an avoidance strategy to sidestep the necessity of the action of faith.  Many people run from person to person to have them pray concerning some healing need they are experiencing. Now it certainly is acceptable and even wise to receive prayer in times of such need, but when people run to others to pray rather than develop their own faith based prayer life, then problems emerge. This can be especially hazardous when you consider the important role of faith in receiving from God.

To intercede for someone who is sick or to receive prayer if you are going through a time of sickness is certainly Biblically sound as James 5:14-15 points out, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” Here we see the call for prayer when sickness strikes, but we must be careful to also note the emphasis on faith in this scripture. It is the “prayer of faith” that will save the sick. Whereas intercessory prayer is a means of bringing healing to a sick person, the prayers offered must be of faith. People sometimes question whose faith it is that brings forth healing results, the faith of the sick person who asked for prayer or the faith of those praying. I personally believe it is both. In this scripture the sick person is the one who is told to call for the elders of the church to pray on their behalf. It stands to reason that a person would not bother to call for prayer if they did not have enough faith to believe that such praying would do some good. Likewise, elders of the church are by definition supposed to be people of faith. What we see here is a combining of faith forces to bring about healing results. Nowhere does this scripture suggest that prayer is to be a substitute for faith. Quite the contrary, it is the prayer of FAITH that saves the sick.

Under some circumstances, the faith of another person can prevail so that God will heal through that person’s faith, but that is not God’s preferred way. The best route is for each person to read and study God’s Word and become built up in his or her own faith.  Every person needs to be equipped to deal with the “fiery darts” of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:13-18 instructs, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” This is a serious call to personal spiritual growth leading to the development of faith. We are to learn how to take up the whole armor of God so we can take our stand of faith when life is extraordinarily challenging.

Now notice the next sentence of this passage from Ephesians and observe the importance granted to faith.  Verse 16 reads, “…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”  The words “above all” suggest that faith is a powerful device of urgent necessity. Once it has been established in the heart of a believer, it is available as a weapon to tear down those things that fight against the Word of God. When sickness strikes, many emotional and mental issues arise. Faith, which originates with the Word of God and develops though application of the Word of God, becomes our shield. We are to use faith to calm the fears, the doubts, and the discouragements that come when sickness has settled in. Verses 17 continues with, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”  Here we see the coupling of the Word of God and faith. As the Word develops faith, faith propels right actions until God’s power accomplishes His purposes. God always fulfills His promises to those who stand on His Word by faith.

This passage from Ephesians concludes with verses 18 saying, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” The phrase “praying always” reminds us of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which commands, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It also brings to mind James 5:16-18 which states, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” Notice this scripture emphasizes the qualities of being fervent and praying earnestly. It is only by faith that one can truly pray in such a passionate manner.

Fervent prayer offered in earnest, persevering and prevailing faith is a very powerful combination. There is no substitute for faith. It is a crucial part of everything we do concerning God.  “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Only by faith can we believe in God enough to trust Him with the deepest needs of our lives and only by faith can we appropriate and receive the fullness of His promises recorded in His Word.

God has promised to be Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord our Physician, the Lord who heals us (Exodus 15:26); however, we must exercise our faith to trust Him to fulfill that word in our lives. As we do that, we can see Jesus, in our mind’s eye, walking the countryside healing multitudes. We can hear Him say to us in a comforting and reassuring way, “Only believe. Have faith in God. Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well” (Luke 8:50; Mark 11:22; Luke 17:19). “Only believe…” seems almost impossible at times, but that does not have to be the case. We can believe God in all and every circumstance if we have done our homework. If we have thoroughly studied the Word of God and embraced its truth as our personal truth, faith has begun to form. Empowered by faith, we apply God’s Word into our life and in doing so He responds to our faith stand. If we have consistently and persistently trained ourselves to act by faith on God’s Word, He is always faithful to bring to pass the Word we are standing upon. The challenge to “only believe” becomes almost automatic under those circumstances and prevailing faith becomes the force that carries us through.