“For there is little doubt that failure in the prayer-life is often—always?—due to failure in the spiritual life. So many people harbor much unbelief in the heart regarding the value and effectiveness of prayer; and without faith, prayer is in vain” (40).
So writes our anonymous author in chapter four of The Kneeling Christian (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids: 1971), and by-and-large I think he’s right. I think he’s put his finger on the heart of the issue. Sometimes believers don’t pray because we simply don’t know how to relate to God, but often we don’t pray because we don’t believe in the promises or perhaps even the presence of God in our lives. And as he said, without faith prayer is in vain, but why is this so?
Simply because God is interested in us, and he longs for us to be interested in him. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to enter into deep and profound and eternal communion with us. He wants to walk through all of life with us—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and talk with us about it along the way. He wants to live as our Father in Christ and he wants us to live as his children in Christ.
This relationship is the essence of faith. Faith is trust and dependence upon the God who has become our Father in Christ. Faith is believing that what our Father has said is true. Faith is calling on the name our Father in Christ in all circumstances and at all times. In this way, faith is the foundation and fountain of prayer.
This is why it’s right to say that lack of prayer unmasks a lack of faith, and perhaps a spirit of unbelief, in our lives. All prayer problems are faith problems. This doesn’t mean that if we just have more faith we’ll get everything we pray for, because faith depends upon the wisdom of God just as much as the power of God. If in his wisdom our Father decides that it would be best for us to endure a certain trial then faith says, “Yes, Father, I accept this from your hand and trust that you’ll work all things together for your glory and my good.”
Prayer is not primarily about getting things from God, whether favor or healing or material provision. Prayer is primarily about relating to God, about walking with him through the ebb and flow of daily life, about submitting to his will and ways. When we realize this truth and seek God himself as our final goal, we then come to see the true power of prayer. More on this next week.
Longing with you to be filled with genuine faith in our Father,Pastor Charlie