“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22–24
The most wonderful promises in all of Scripture are those regarding answers to prayer. To many, such promises have raised the question, How can I ever attain the faith that knows that it receives all it asks?
It is this very question our Lord would answer today. When He gave the above promise to His disciples (vv. 23–24), He first pointed out where faith in the answer to prayer comes from and where it finds its strength: “Have faith in God” (v. 22). This command precedes the promise of answered prayer.
The power to believe a promise depends entirely on our faith in the one who promises. Trust in a person creates trust in his word. It is only when we enjoy a personal loving relationship with God himself that our whole being is opened up to the mighty influence of His holy presence and the capacity will be developed in us for believing that He gives whatever we ask.
The connection between faith in God and faith in His promises will become clear when we think about what faith really is. It is often compared to the hand or the mouth by which we take and appropriate what is offered to us. Faith is also the ear by which we hear what is promised, the eye by which we see what is offered. The power to take hold of something depends on this. I must hear the person who gives the promise—the very tone of his voice gives me courage to believe. I must see him—in the light of his eye and his countenance, all fear passes away. The value of the promise depends on the promiser; my knowledge of the promiser’s character and dependability creates faith in his promise.
For this reason, Jesus, when He gave that wonderful prayer-promise in Mark, first said, “Have faith in God.” In other words, open your eyes to the living God, gaze on Him, and see Him who is invisible. Through my eyes I yield myself to the influence of what is before me; I allow it to enter my mind, to exert its influence and leave its impression on my heart. So believing God is simply looking to who He is, basking in His presence, yielding my whole being to take in the full impression of who He is, opening my soul to receive His love.
Yes, faith is the eye to which God reveals himself. Through faith, the light of His presence and the workings of His mighty power stream into the soul. As that which I see and behold lives in me, so by faith God lives in me.
Faith is also the ear through which the voice of God is heard and communication with Him is maintained. Through the Holy Spirit the Father speaks to us—the Spirit is the living voice; the Son is the Word, the substance of what God says. The child of God needs the voice from heaven to teach him what to say and do, just as it taught Jesus. A believing heart and an ear opened toward God will hear Him speak.
The words of God will not only be the words of His Book, but proceeding from His mouth, words of spirit and truth, life and power. They will produce in deed and experience what would otherwise only be thoughts. Through an opened ear the soul tarries under the influence of the life and power of God himself. As the words I hear enter my mind and work their influence, so through faith God enters my heart and works His influence there.
When faith is in full exercise as eye and ear, the faculty of the soul by which we see and hear God, it will be able to exercise its full power as hand and mouth to appropriate God and His blessings. The power of reception will depend entirely on the power of our spiritual perception. For this reason Jesus said, “Have faith in God.”
Faith is simply surrender: yielding ourselves to the impression of the words we hear. By faith we yield ourselves to the living God. His glory and love fill our hearts and have control over our lives. Faith is fellowship: it is giving ourselves over to the influence of a friend who makes a promise and in that way we become linked to that friend. When we enter into this living fellowship with God himself, in the faith that sees and hears Him, it becomes natural to believe His promises regarding prayer. Faith in the promise is the fruit of faith in the Promiser; the prayer of faith is rooted in the life of faith.
In this way, the faith that prays effectually is a gift of God. Not as something that He bestows or infuses but as the blessed disposition or habit of soul that is wrought in a life of communion with Him. Surely for one who knows his Father well and lives in constant close fellowship with Him, it is a simple thing to believe the promise that He will do the will of His child.
Because many of God’s children do not understand this connection between the life of faith and the prayer of faith, their experience of the power of prayer is very limited. When they desire to obtain an answer from God, they fix their whole heart upon the promise and try their utmost to grasp it in faith. When they do not succeed, they give up hope; the promise is true, but it is beyond their power to take hold of it. Listen to the lesson Jesus teaches us: “Have faith in God”—the living God. Let faith look to God more than the thing promised; His love, His power, His living presence will awaken and work out real faith.
To one who asks for the means to gain strength in his arms and hands, a physician would say that his whole body must be built up and strengthened. So the cure for weak faith is found in the building up of one’s whole spiritual life by communing with God. Learn to believe God, to take hold of Him, to let Him take possession of your life; then it will be easy to take hold of the promise. He who knows and trusts God finds it easy to trust the promise as well.
Notice how evident this was in the saints of old. Every special exhibition of the power of faith was the fruit of a special revelation of God. See it in the case of Abraham: “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward....’ He also said to him, ‘I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it’” (Genesis 15:1, 7). After further revelation concerning his offspring and the land he would possess, Abram believed the Lord.
In a later instance when the Lord appeared to him, Abram fell facedown and laughed, such was the incredible nature of God’s revelation to him. But it was the revelation of God himself that gave the promise living power to enter Abraham’s heart and to build his faith.
Because he knew God, Abraham could only trust His promise. God’s promise will be to us what God himself is to us. It is the man who walks before the Lord, and even falls on his face to listen while God speaks to him, who will receive the promise. Though we have God’s promises in the Bible, with full liberty to appropriate them, spiritual power is lacking until God himself speaks them to us. And He speaks to those who walk and live with Him.
Therefore, let your faith be all eyes and ears. Surrender to God; allow Him to make His full impression and reveal himself fully in your soul. Count it one of the chief blessings of prayer to exercise faith in God—the living mighty God who waits to fulfill in us all the good pleasure of His will. See Him as the God of love, who delights to bless us and impart himself to us. As we worship God, power will come to believe the promise: “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). As in faith you make God your own, the promise will be yours as well.
We naturally seek God’s gifts, but God wants to give us himself first. We think of prayer as the power that brings down the good gifts of heaven, and Jesus as the means to draw us up to God. We tend to stand at the door and cry out our request, but Jesus would have us enter in and realize that we are friends and children.
Let every experience of the smallness of your faith in prayer encourage you to have and exercise more faith in the living God. A heart that is full of God has power for the prayer of faith. Faith in God gives birth to faith in the promise—the promise of answered prayer.
Therefore, as children of God, let us take time to bow before Him, to wait on Him to reveal himself to us. Take the time necessary to let your soul exercise and express its faith in your all-powerful God. As He imparts himself to you and takes possession of you, the prayer of faith will emerge.
O God, I do truly believe in you. I believe you are my Father; I believe in your infinite love and power. I believe in your Son, my Redeemer and my life. And I believe in your Holy Spirit, my Comforter, Guide, and strength. Three-in-One God, I have faith in you. I know and am certain that all you are you are to me, that all you have promised you will perform.
Lord Jesus, increase my faith. Teach me to take time to wait and worship in your holy presence until my faith appropriates all there is in you for me. Let me see you as the fountain of life, working with your mighty strength to accomplish your will in the world and in me. Let me see your love that is longing to meet and fulfill all my desires. Let your love so take possession of my heart and life that through faith I will know you dwelling in me. Lord Jesus, help me, that with my whole heart I might believe in you. Let my faith in you fill me every moment.
My blessed Savior, how can your church glorify you? How can it fulfill the work of intercession, through which your kingdom must come, unless our whole life is filled with faith in God? Blessed Lord, speak your Word, “Have faith in God,” into the depths of my soul. Amen.
The Fullness of the Spirit by Andrew Murray
Copyright © 1980, 2004 ; ISBN 0764229036
Published by Bethany House Publishers