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What the Bible says about Faith and Prayer
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 9:27-29

Christ's statement—saying that we will receive according to faith—is both an inspiration and a challenge to faith. In many cases, we misunderstand what He says. He does not mean that we will receive in proportion to our faith but that we will receive because we believe.

Why did He ask if they believed? This took place immediately after restoring a young girl to life, and a lot of people were milling around, undoubtedly abuzz at what they heard had occurred. Matthew tells us in verse 25: "But when the crowd was put outside . . .," and in verse 26, there was a report. Then Jesus left the area. Undoubtedly, a crowd followed Him because, even if it were just out of curiosity, they wanted to see what He would do next.

It is interesting that Jesus took these men inside the house and away from the crowd before He did what He did. Why? The context does not say exactly, but there is enough here to speculate about why He did so. It has to do with the question, "Do you believe?" Jesus likely wanted to see what their response would be. What kind of conviction did they really have? Were they asking merely out of curiosity?

Matthew calls them "men," so undoubtedly, these were adults, not children. Were they going to be able to bear the responsibility of having sight? Whenever God does something for us, even though it is a freely given gift, He is not obligated to do it except as a result of His own promise. Yet, when He does something for us, it does put us under obligation.

Jesus probably wanted to see whether the conviction of these men was of a high enough quality that they would make good use of what He was about to bestow on them. When He asked the question about their faith, it was a test, not just to see if they believed He could heal them right in this moment, but if they could carry their conviction into the new, more responsible life that would result from their healing.

How many people do we know to whom God has given a great gift—maybe of healing—and then, later on, they leave the church or completely dissipate the gift that they received? I doubt God begrudges it to them at all, but that is not the point. The recipients of such gifts fail to take advantage of them in God's service, which is part of the reason why Christ asked the question.

If we get anything out of these three verses, it is that God does not heal in proportion to our faith. He heals because we believe Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith and Prayer

Matthew 28:18

Christ has the power to do whatever we ask, and we must have confidence, belief, or faith in His ability to do what we are asking Him to do. If all authority has been given to Him, then all the power of God is in Him, so He can do more than we ask. Can we, then, ask Him in faith, in conviction, understanding this important point?

Even though we are praying to a very powerful Being who could do more than we even ask, the faithful person also responds by being obedient. Recall these examples Jesus gives us of His ministry in the New Testament:

Faith goes to the pool of Siloam to wash when it is told to go. Remember the occasion when Christ told the man to go dip himself in the pool and the man obediently did what Christ told him to do.

Faith cast the net wherever Christ tells the person to. Christ said, "Cast your net here." Peter did what Christ said, and he drew out a lot of fish as a result.

Christ once told the nobleman, "Go home. Your daughter is healed." The nobleman turned on his heels and went home. His daughter indeed was healed.

The faith that God is looking for keeps the commandments of God and does things that are pleasing in His sight. It says to God, "Lord, speak, for your servant hears." It says, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"

There are also times when faith is called upon to wait in patience for God because there are frequent delays, and sometimes long delays, before God answers. True faith will not grow discouraged and disheartened because the prayer is not immediately honored.

Why will true faith do this? Why will it wait patiently, continuing obediently to submit to the will of God? Because it knows God. The answer is that simple. Because a person of such faith has conviction because he has been diligently seeking God. He has been walking and talking with God. He understands the mind of God. He knows why God delays or acts quickly. It will wait patiently for whenever God wills it to be done.

True faith knows that God has the power, and it knows whether a request is according to His will. It knows that it is impossible for God to lie and that He will fulfill His promises. But it also knows and accepts that he is not the only person or event that God is working with, so that kind of faith accepts without question the conditions for answered prayer. Such delays are times of testing in which faith is privileged to show its mettle.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith and Prayer

John 11:21-27

Jesus and Martha were talking on two different levels. She understood in a way, but not what Jesus was really saying. Jesus was talking about a resurrection that would occur in just a few moments, while she meant a resurrection that will occur when God resurrect the firstfruits. They were speaking about the same subject, but their timing was off, so to speak.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith and Prayer


 




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