In Galatians 3:5 Paul ask “does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” At the time there were false believers in Galatia who were trying to convince the church that they must be circumcised to be saved. Paul corrected the church in Galatia very harshly. He reminded them that it is only by believing and trusting in Jesus that we are saved and we can add nothing to what Jesus has done for us.
To make this easier to understand, think of it this way. There are various people in the church who believe they are more righteous than others because they have never touched alcohol, or tobacco, or caffeine. Perhaps they have never used vulgarity, or maybe they have never told a lie. What Paul is saying is that people who take pride in such things and believe it somehow makes them more acceptable to God have placed themselves under the entire Law. In the eyes of the world they may appear more righteous, but before God they stand condemned. Paul is telling the church in Galatia not to try to make themselves righteous, but to believe and trust in Christ Jesus to be made righteous.
So how does this apply to prayer? Many people believe that in order to move God through prayer they must fast, pray repetitively, or beg. I have even witnessed a Pastor with his eyes clenched and brow furled as if deep concentration somehow helped. These things are all pointless.
Christians are people of faith. Faith is simply belief and trust in God. In Matthew 17:14-21 the disciples were unable to cast a demon from a child. When they asked Jesus why they failed, the Lord told them it was because of their unbelief. He said “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you.” (In Matthew 17:21 the Lord says the way to deal with this type of unbelief is through prayer and fasting.) It is safe to say that the disciples believed in the Lord. He was right there with them, and they asked Him why they had failed.
Remember, faith requires both belief and trust. Belief that the Lord is who He says He is, and trust that He will do what He says He will do. Faith is a requirement for prayer just as it is for salvation. With that in mind let’s examine a few ways Christians pray in unbelief.
This is the most common prayer of unbelief. People will pray and quickly tack “in Jesus name” on the end of a prayer. Saying “in Jesus name” and praying in Jesus name are not the same. To pray in Jesus name mean you are speaking with the power and authority of the Lord. Have you ever heard someone say, “We are the hands and feet of Jesus?” In prayer we are the voice of Jesus. Christians do not use incantations, we are not witches. When we pray in Jesus name we speak for Him, with authority.
In Luke 18 Jesus tells a story about a widow who continually badgers a judge. Although the judge fears neither God nor man he relents. Some people will assume this means that we must badger God with repeated requests until he relents. This is not the case. The judge was unrighteous, God is not. Secondly, in verse 8 the Lord says God will bring about justice quickly.
The Candle Blower
When I was a child, my parents would tell me to make a wish while I blew out the candles on a birthday cake and maybe it would come true. There are people who approach prayer the same way. Prayer is not a wish, or a gamble. A prayer of faith leaves no room for doubt.
The Magoo Prayer
Mr. Magoo was a cartoon character that was always going the wrong way, talking to posts, and getting in trouble because of his bad vision. If you want to go from one place to the next it helps to be able to see where you are going. Spiritual blindness is a type of unbelief that hinders prayer. To pray in faith you must be able to visualize the result.
Faith is the key to all things spiritual. Prayer is not magic, a gamble, or a chore. Prayer is simply speaking to God in faith.
Jim Disbrow – Sioux Falls