I also think that many believe that they will instantly understand what they can’t see or that some kind of light will go on or they’ll have some kind of experience–like incredible joy suddenly overwhelming them. But none of those are faith.
Hebrews 11 goes into the defintion of faith by recalling the actions of those who were justified by their faith in God in the OT. As so defined, faith is acting on God’s word/trusting in God. It’s not having knowledge nor even some kind of inner feeling, it’s doing what God has commanded us to do–following Christ as he desires us to do–by doing what he said and becoming holy as God is holy. That is faith which anyone may have.
“Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” OR It wasn’t answered how the person wanted it to be answered or in the time the person wanted it answered. Patience is a virtue that I most definitely don’t have, but I have been going through a very difficult time and looking back I can see what God has done for me, even when I didn’t realize it at that moment.
Wouldn’t the fact that you are praying for faith in God show that you do have faith? Why would you pray to God if you didn’t have faith in Him in the first place? Just a thought. I think that a seed of faith can be planted when we don’t even know it. For me, I believe my mother speaking of her faith in God, having gotten baptized and her limited activity in church at the time planted a seed of faith in each of her children. 5 out of the 7 has seen that faith grow which was dependent upon the type of “soil” within which it was planted and the type of spiritual food it was given.
I feel like I was talking like Paul there…it got more complicated the longer I got…
The thing is, for those who prayed for faith, didn’t find it, and subsequently lost their faith, their big mistake was that they stopped praying. If a person is seeking God and really wants to have faith, then they need to persevere.
I think that many people are overly influenced by the “if you believe you have faith” idea that is only half of what makes up having faith. Catholicism is not merely believed–it is practiced and believed. It’s the practicing part that people seem to forget about when praying for faith. Jesus told us to do, not just to believe. He knew that it is in the doing that we believe not just in the thinking. James went into detail about practicing our faith not merely believing it.
Ever since the reformation people seem to believe that the doing is less important, or even none essential to belief, but it is core. How can we humans, frail mortal beings that we are, possibly think we can grasp the depths of God? We can’t. But we can do what he has commanded us to do merely because he commanded it–to do his will (which is no secret) and to have faith in him. It requires no special insights, no feelings, and certainly not full understanding since God cannot be fully understood. It requires doing and by doing and trusting comes faith for many for whom the complexities of theology and the daily business of living get in the way of belief.
Saw a nice little Youtube vid a few weeks back on faith from the perspective of a Jewish Rabbi, saying how he thought people get their faith mixed up with their beliefs ie. they think their beliefs are their faith. He described faith as exemplified in the Psalms, staying right ordered to God in the face of oppression, temptation, wickedness and feeling as though God is not listening. He said with a smile that your beliefs ‘will always get you into trouble’.
Recently there have been a number of severe weather and flooding conditions throughout the country. I have heard of the story of one man whose farm was flooding. A non-believer he decided that he would use this opportunity to test and see of there was a God. He prayed to be spared and the water to subside but the water continued to ruse. A truck came by the farm and offered to take him to safety, he said no thanks. the water eventually reached the house and he was forced to move up to the second story. At this point a boat came by and offered to take him to safety. He prayed with renewed fervor, but the water continued to rise. Once again, he prayed, "If there is a God, please let the water subside so that I will be spared. Eventually, he was forced to climb up on the roof. A helicopter came by and offered to lift him to safety, but he said no. The flood increased in furry and his house was swept away, at which point he concluded that there was not God.
The man drowned in that flood and was surprised to find himself standing at the pearly gates. St. Peter looked in the Book of Life and said, I’m sorry, I see that your rejected belief in God. He answered St. Peter, “I didn’t believe there was a God because when I asked He didn’t spare me!”
St. Peter replied, “He sent you a truck, a boat and a helicopter, what more proof did you need?”.
The point is, we need to have our eyes open to see what God is doing, He doesn’t necessarily do things in the way we are expecting.
Della, I completely agree with you. Faith is not static - it must be exercised and fed by worship, fellowship and studying His Word. We should not continue to be babies and drink milk but to grow and find more nourishing food for our souls.