Q. Thank you for your recent articles on the subject of prayer. I had been troubled about why the prayer section in my local Christian bookstore is so large.
When the Lord Jesus had his earthly ministry, did He ever say “No” to anyone who came to Him, asking (praying to) Him for help, healing, sight, hearing, speech, wine for a wedding, food, etc?
He certainly is saying “No” a lot since then, and that has me troubled, as He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” “What is too hard” for Him? So maybe it is the institution of prayer that has changed? Does the Bible tell us everything about God, or only what He thinks we need to know?
He told us that we were to have the faith the size of a mustard seed, not that of pseudo-theologians who appeal to “original languages” to hedge on the prayer promises. If faith “is a gift of God, not of man, lest no one should boast.”(clearly this verse refers to faith as the gift, since grace is by very definition a gift from God, that to mention it would be silly) then how and why do I need to have more faith for my prayers to be answered if the very faith that He requires, is a gift from Him???
Perhaps the best answer is “I don’t know”. “That’s God’s business.” He gave us so many prayer promises, with “whosoevers” and “whatsoevers”, but evidently, that has changed. I find it troubling.
A. Nothing has changed. Ephesians 2:8 says that the faith that saves us is a gift from God. But Jesus accused His disciples of having little faith and said that if we had even a tiny amount of faith we could move mountains. (Matt. 17:20) Paul wrote that faith comes from hearing the word of the Lord. (Romans 10:17) These statements tell us that while the faith to be saved is a gift, we can make that faith grow until it can perform miracles.
Developing stronger faith is like developing stronger muscles. Both take exercise. The problem for many people today is that they can get most of the things they want without having to rely on God, so it’s not necessary to exercise their faith very much to live a decent life. Many of us would be surprised and ashamed to see the faith of those who live lives of deprivation, hardship, or persecution.