“So Jesus answered and said to them, Assuredly, 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 also if you say to this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:21-22
If you are anything like me you have been all over the emotional roller coaster thinking about verses like this. It kind of goes like this: “Whatever I ask in prayer, believing, I will receive. (Mental Pause) Well, I’m not receiving it!” So anger begins to seep in. Sometimes just a little. More often times quite a bit. When I finally begin to calm down because I know that God is good, I begin to look at the verses again. I then realize that I must not be receiving because I don’t have enough faith. I’m a fraud. So then sorrow, depression and self-hatred begin to consume me. When I then realize that God wouldn’t want me thinking this way so I then psyche myself up to pray more often and less selfishly and that works until my patience for not receiving what I want or seeing what I want wears out. Anyone on this ride with me?
Instead of going through these regular, vicious emotional cycles and instead of telling God that these scriptures don’t make any sense based on what I’ve experienced, maybe I instead should pray and live in a different way.
Faith means complete trust and confidence in God. Does my emotional roller coaster show complete trust and confidence in God? No. Does my time demand on the words of Jesus in these verses show complete trust and confidence in God? No. Looks like my life, my walk with God has a growth opportunity.
Why not go into prayer each day, still lifting up each request that is on my heart, but ending each time in prayer by simply asking God: “How can I increase my faith in You today? Help my heart, eyes and mind be open to those opportunities and help me to respond in faith and not doubt. “
Where might some of these opportunities be?
Not Yielding to Temptation - God does not tempt us, but we are tempted by are own desires (James 1:13-15). Instead of yielding to the temporary satisfaction of sin have faith instead by choosing satisfaction in God. Temptation is hard but it isn’t just an opportunity for you to fail, but an opportunity to grow your faith. Look at temptation with faith not fear.
Remaining Hopeful – All of us have situations in which are easy to talk with that doomsday mentality. Our marriage is struggling, our child is straying, our health, our classes, our job and the list goes on. Stop your mind from going to the worst possible outcome and instead if you are talking about the issue with a friend just give them the current facts NOT your conclusion about the doomsday future. Instead talk about how you are praying, how you are fasting, how you have placed your FAITH in God about the situation and how that is causing you to be an active and positive individual in whatever the situation is. Look at difficulties with faith not doom.
Those are just a couple quick examples (difficult ones, yes, but growth happens when you stretch yourself beyond what you believe you are capable of). I’m sure if you sit and think about it you will begin to see other areas that you can begin to daily grow and strengthen your faith. Renew your mind, change your heart, grow your faith.
“The Lord is my portion, says my soul, THEREFORE I hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:24