Things to Remember about Prayer - Lesson V
Cure of unbelief
"19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
The question is yielding to God's Spirit to become strengthened in our spiritual life, in close fellowship with the Father. This requires separation from the world. This is best accomplished by prayer without distraction. Prayer grows our faith and keeps it strong. No true prayer is without faith. As our faith needs continual growth, so also does our prayer life. One feeds the other. The law of God's kingdom is that the measure of faith always determines the measure of power and of blessing.
Exercise in all things increases strength. So also in prayer we exercise our faith: in fellowship with the Father we receive strength. Our faith has its life in God Himself. We must be thankful and worship Him for His love and mercy toward us, and listen in quiet yielding to His Spirit that He may speak to us. This increases our trust and knowledge of Him.
As we study and learn from His blessed Word, we also learn to hear the enlivening Spirit bring the words to life within us that bring power in faith and prayer. Thus the promises of His Son become promises to us as new and real and true. To increase faith is to spend more time in prayer, time with God, and thereby increase our power with God. As we become more devoted to being His children, He will enable us to more participate in His work here on earth, all to His glory and the furtherance of His Gospel. His Word is His Word to us. Power in prayer is powerful trust in God. Much prayer means more than 5 minutes. Our most important work in this life is God's work. The more we know about, the more we participate in it, the more our prayer increases, the much more our prayers are answered.
It is Christ's life in us that gives us strength to believe. The closer our union with Him, the less our sinful selves have influence over us. Faith grows through prayer, prayer grows through faith. Jesus suggests that appetites of the flesh must be satisfied in moderation, and sometimes even denied to concentrate on needful serious prayer. It expresses dedication to a special need, a strong resolution that demands complete attention without distraction. It is also giving up the visible and earthly, for the invisible and heavenly.
Our desire should not be to hold onto and enjoy everything of the world that is lawful, thus being entangled in our own fleshly desires and affairs. But we should continue to set aside anything that hinders our life and service to the Lord. To give up a meal for prayer seems little to ask for what a difference the resulting time in prayer could mean. To follow Jesus demands this. He allowed nothing to hinder His saving ministry. What should we allow to hinder our work in reaching out to others in prayer?
How small is our faith that we don't completely trust our Heavenly Father and what He promised? Who else can be more trusted; Who else is as true in carrying out His promises!
Lord, continue to teach us to pray and fast, that leads to abiding in fellowship with Thee and the Father. Jesus, You are the Author and Finisher of our faith. We often pray for strength in ourselves to be given by Thee. But it is believing in Your Strength that makes us strong. Accepting the bounteous love that You give us that allows us to reach out in love to others. This mercy and forgiveness allows us to show mercy and to forgive. Even as Jesus forgave, so must we. This becomes the evidence of true conversion and the necessary condition of the prayer of faith.
The frame of mind in prayer reflects the frame of mind of life. God reads the continual disposition of the heart, not just the pious words of a repeated kind of prayer. If the life reflects the attempt to live according to God's will and the love that includes, that will effect not only our prayer, but also how God will deal with it.
I John 3:18b,19,21,22a: "Let us love in deed and truth, hereby shall we assure our hearts before Him...If our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God, and whatever we ask, we receive of Him." Neither faith nor work will profit if we have not love; it is love that unites with God, it is love that proves the reality of faith. It is also the necessary ingredient of effectual prayer.
This love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, given by Christ as a gift from the Father as an overflowing fountain of love to share with all those around us. It also is the fountain of believing prayer. To contemplate the mercy and forgiveness and love of the Father, shown to us in the perfect and love-filled life, and sacrificial death of His Son for us, allows the Holy Spirit to fill and overflow within us so that we with great peace and joy wish to share this blessing with others, both in fellowship and in intercessory prayer.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.