Faith is powerful and living by it is transformational. Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We might desperately hope for something, but faith is being sure of that thing. It is simply the confidence that God is who He says He Is and that He will do everything He’s promised to do.
When it comes to faith and praying for your own needs, particularly matters that are very close to your heart, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about faith in a way that makes God your own personal genie. Why wouldn’t you want the most powerful Being, the Creator of all to do what you want, when you want it? If we have enough faith, He should deliver according to our personal needs, right? Yet, God doesn’t always deliver in the way we may feel He should or at the times we think He should. This has nothing to do with our faith or the desires of our hearts.
There is a common misconception that God doesn’t answer our prayers because we don’t have enough faith. Even those of us who have been Christians for a while occasionally wonder why God doesn’t answer our prayers. Sometimes we think if we have enough faith, our prayers will be answered in the way we want them answered. The truth is the quantity of our faith does not drive the results we want. There is also a common misconception that we can get God to do what we want if we have enough faith. The truth is you can’t train and tame to influence God to do what you want done. It’s not a formula that we need to figure out, like the combination to a lock. There is no strategy that somehow forces God to do what we want Him to do. Faith is not confidence that something will happen or even hope that it will happen. It is pure and simple trust that God knows what is best, even when it comes to our own healing.
In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul is drawn close to God, but also has a severe affliction. He responded to it by approaching God at his point of need. He asked confidently, fully expecting God’s grace and mercy. Paul did not receive physical relief but did hear God say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul decided to embrace his weakness as another means for drawing closer to God. His faith was in God and not in his own circumstances. The goal of faith isn’t to get God to do what we want Him to do. The goal is to get us to live with a right understanding of the character and promises of God.
Many people wonder why God doesn’t heal everyone. Why does God only heal certain people and not everyone who sincerely prays for healing? The truth is, it is not always God’s will to heal a person physically. A person may sincerely pray and truly have faith that God can heal, but if it is not God’s will to provide healing at that time, then no healing will come. The Bible tells us, “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). Contrary to what we might be feeling according to our circumstances, sometimes God’s blessings come in other ways besides physical healing.
If it were always God’s will for people to be healed, then there would be no sickness. Everyone would be healed every time he or she became ill. If good health were always God’s will, then we would never die. Good health has nothing to do with your faith. We can’t blame someone’s sickness on a lack of faith. We know from Scripture that God sometimes uses illness to accomplish His will. Too often, many Christians have an over-simplified idea of healing. We think that if we are sick, we have only to ask God to heal us and because He loves us, He will heal us straightaway. Healing is seen as proof of a person’s faith and God’s love. This idea persists, in spite of the truth every parent knows: a parent doesn’t give their child everything they ask for every time, no matter how much they love them. The same principle applies to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t give us everything we ask for every time, no matter how much He loves us.
This doesn’t mean that we should lose hope in our faith or that there isn’t incredible power in prayer for miracles to happen. The Bible recounts the amazing things that have been done by faith. Noah built an ark that saved his family from drowning. Abraham left his home to find a new one far away, his wife Sarah bore a son when she was far past the child-bearing days. Moses led millions out of slavery, the walls of Jericho fell to the ground. These examples tells us what can be accomplished “by faith.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6) and with it, we have everlasting life (John 3:16). You can’t grow in faith if you don’t make time to ready and study the Bible. The Word of God is powerful and change people’s lives. Just because you may not be getting the outcome you’re looking for, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Ultimately, faith comes down to trusting that God knows what He is doing and our believing in what is promised.