The topic of faith and prayer can be a real guilt trip. You likely know what I mean, a preacher, or a super pious person brings up a passage like Matthew 21:21-22... "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Then they leave you with the unspoken and sometimes spoken, but obvious thought "If you had faith like me maybe your prayers would get answered too!"
A big problem with faith and prayer is how do you get enough faith to have your prayers answered? I have thought about and even preached on it, but was never really was satisfied with the answers.
Then I had a friend tell me about a Sunday message at her church on "God doing things when there is an expectation for Him to do things."
That got me thinking about prayer. When I pray do I really expect God to do something? So I thought back over the past two years that I have been disabled and unable to work. There were many times when I cried out to God because of financial pressures. Every time one way or another, the bills were paid. Sometimes it was through loans, but many times, it was through gifts that totally surprised me.
As I reflected on those prayers I realized something, every time I 1) was desperate, 2) threw myself on God's grace, love, and mercy, and 3) really expected Him to do something. Thinking back on other answered prayers a common factor was the expectation that God would do something!
This might be a better way to approach the faith and prayer issue. For me the idea of: do I really expect God to do something is easier to deal with. I can look at myself and give a candid self-evaluation on that. It is a straightforward and clear criteria.
God tells us to pray with belief and faith. Is that just another way of saying we need to pray with expectation? I think it likely is..
So I need to be much more consistent about praying with expectation. Even then, I need to remember to leave the issue of how God does what needs to be done up to Him.
Think about it, this might just be the thing to help you pray with more faith too.
Written by Rev Daniel Baker January 2008 Updated March 2014