Faith and Prayer – A Dynamic Duo
As a devout Roman Catholic the first twenty-four years of my life, I must say, that prayer was a very important part of my existence. I can remember vividly as a child growing up in our family, faithfully attending church and continually performing all the rituals associated with being a member of that religion. The words ‘faith’ and ‘prayer’ were continually placed into the treasury of my heart as a child by the happy voice and admonitions of my God-fearing grandfather as well as my parents. Little did I know back then that one day Jesus would come to my young adult life in the midst of despairing circumstances, uncover my distressed heart and shine His dazzling light of truth and grace through those two diamonds in the rough and make them come alive. He came to show me that, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1, KJV). See my post Religion to Relationship
Until He came, all my years of praying never gave me what my heart most longed for, an assurance that what I was asking of God would actually come to pass. I didn’t know that true faith is fully trusting God and His Word, believing that He is not only able but also willing to do what we ask. “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11:23).
This depressed, young wife and mother began rising early in the morning and in spite of the heaviness in spirit, would say and write God’s Word, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we [I] will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, KJV). At that time, I thought doing something like this, with the hope of my life actually changing because of it, was far too simplistic; but frankly, I decided I had nothing to lose by trying it – I was already looking up to see bottom. I had so much want in my life and found that there was also a Scripture God put in the Bible just to take care of that very problem too; “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,” (Psalm 23:1, KJV). Everything in life seemed so dark, foreboding, unpredictable and out of control. I felt as though I was at the complete mercy of others and circumstances. But then I found God had provided a way out of that fearsome reality when He gave His very Word, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, KJV).
I began to daily rely on His Word in the same way I would believe a trusted friend who told me they would be mailing me a check or stopping by at a certain time. As a child growing up, I had never trusted God like that in all those years of praying. When I began to trust God in my darkest despair and cried out one day, “God, my life is such a mess. If you can do anything with it after all this, then go ahead.” That day my broken heart opened up for the first time to the possibility of hope for a bright future. Jesus came rushing in with His forgiveness and irresistible love. No longer were faith and prayer merely some pious-sounding, religious terms. They became the open line for God and me to build a relationship. My faith in Him, i.e., expecting Him to hear and respond to me, was always followed by His power to either change the circumstances or to change me as a person or both.
The gray days of despair turned into days of breathless wonder and indescribable joy. What words can describe the transformation of eternal life with its accompanying miracles seen in everyday circumstances when contrasted with a previous, supremely religious life that had never produced any change in circumstances after praying? There are no words. I can remember one particular day being so filled with joy and the reality of God’s blessed presence that I couldn’t get up to move or walk. “…in thy presence is fulness of joy;…” (Psalm 16:11 KJV). I finally had to pray and tell the Lord Jesus I couldn’t take any more joy, it felt like my heart would explode.
Prayers of Faith
One of the most wonderful realities I discovered about faith and prayer is that God is not bound by time and space. Therefore, when we ask Him for something, or if we just show Him our heart of trust in a situation by refusing to fear the circumstances, He goes to work on our behalf in advance of our prayer of faith to bring about a solution to the problem or difficulty.
A particular instance of this comes to mind that had to do with finances. This is just one small example of countless times I experienced the mercy and goodness of God. At that time, we were involved in purchasing a small parcel of land. It was in the very beginning stages of acquisition and my husband was earning, at that time, less then two hundred dollars a week. He called from work on a payday and told me the bank we were working through to obtain financing for the land was requiring an appraisal before they would even consider lending us the money. He said an appraiser would be coming by the house and to give him a check for $170. I couldn’t believe it, but I wrote out the check at my husband’s direction. Then I wrote another check for $25 to cash at the bank so I could have money to travel the hundred miles over the weekend to visit my family. (I was on a quest to get them to understand that what I had recently experienced with God was not the same as the Catholic belief even though it all sounded somewhat the same as far as doctrine).
When I subtracted the $25 amount in my check register, together with the $170 subtraction for the appraisal, there was a balance of a few cents over $3 to last for a whole week. I can remember looking at that tiny balance and feeling fear rise in my heart, going up to my face. I thought, “I’d better not cash this $25 check and forget going to see the family this weekend.”
But then I remembered how God had changed my life recently and He didn’t want me to be in fear, especially fear of lack or poverty. Standing there at the table, I determinedly said to myself, “I am NOT going to fear. God’s bank has all I’ll need for this coming week!”
I got in the car to go to the bank and on the way out of the yard, I decided to get the mail, which had just been delivered. I noticed a letter from my mother-in-law in another state. Opening it there in the car, my heart leaped for joy as I saw a check for $50. In her letter, written three days prior to this moment, she said she was thinking of us while she was busy doing her daily housework and just “felt like she needed to sit down and send us some money.” How overjoyed I was again, marveling with the discovery that because God is not bound by time, He could see my faith and trust in Him that day at my table and “inspire” my mother-in-law three days before to mail us a check for no reason. The money she sent, twice the amount I was going to the bank for, arrived only minutes after I had decided in my heart not to fear lack. As I laid my head back on the seat of the car and cried for joy, I was overcome with the blessed reality again that God is truly a loving, heavenly Father, that He is deeply concerned about and desires to be actively involved in every detail of my life. The words of a little poem come to mind with this tender answer to my prayer:
Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
‘I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush around and worry so.’
Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
‘Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.’