Remember that faith/belief is a critical element in effective prayer, in scripture prayer. Without faith you are spouting empty words, hoping that they will have some effect...somehow…you hope.
With faith, a whole new world of possibility opens. But, you are not born with great faith. You move slowly from no faith, to little faith, to strong faith, to great faith as we are taken from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18).
There is no shame in having a little faith, just as there is no shame in being a seed before the blade appears. Faith involves a growing process, a maturing. That takes time. Fortunately, God honors each of those stages of growth.
Abraham’s Faith Grew
Abraham is a splendid example of the growth process of faith. He is known today as the Father of the People of Faith, a role model of faith. But, he didn’t start out as a faith giant.
Looking at faith development in Abraham is encouraging. He didn’t start out as a star. From the time he left Ur of the Chaldees (his home) until the conception of his son Isaac 25 years later, Abraham was traveling a maturity continuum of faith.
In the early days of his sojourn:
• He left the Land of Promise for Egypt because he couldn’t trust God to get him through the drought.
• He passed off his wife Sarai as his sister in Egypt out of fear that the Pharaoh would kill him to procure the beautiful Sarah….no faith! (Gen 10:12-20)
• He brought his cousin Lot with him when told to leave his father’s household behind. Lot wasn’t a bad chap, but proved to be a lot of trouble. (Ugh! You pay a high price for not listening, don’t you?)
Abraham was not yet a role model of faith, but God still bailed him out, protected him, kept him on track. What comfort! Even in our immature stages of faith-development, God will honor what faith we have.
Moving to Greater Faith
It seems the turning point in faith development for Abram (as he was called at the time) came when he faced a situation in which he was totally helpless:
• He was close to 100 years old.
• His wife Sarai was close to 90.
• …and they were childless
• No heir! Barrenness was considered shameful in that culture.
At this point God promises Abram as many heirs as the stars in the sky (Gen 15) and Abram believes! He believes for offspring at his age! Abram’s only question to God is, how can he know that he will inherit the Land of Promise?
Covenant Relationship Builds Faith
Then comes the history-changing event! In a language of culture that Abram can understand, God cuts covenant with him. Abram is now God’s covenant man. Their relationship has changed. (read more about Covenant)
We can see this in Genesis 17 where God changes their names to Abram and Sarah, adding an “H” to both of their original names. The “H” stands for the “breath sound”, meaning Spirit, Life. This is what the Israelites used in naming God.
• Abraham and Sarah are now carrying God’s name – like a marriage!
• Abraham is called the Father of a Multitude and Sarah, a Mother of Nations.
• Their new names signify being made new, being given new capacities.
Stronger Faith Brings Strong Responses
Abraham reflects this new capacity in his prayer stance with God over his nephew Lot. Out of friendship, God informs Abraham that He is on His way to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot lives.
Abraham makes a stand of supplication on behalf of those cities. Little by little, Abraham gains confidence in his requests until God is agreeing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten righteous are found there. Apparently Abraham thought that surely there were ten good folk in those doomed cities. He drops the negotiating at ten. Abraham was wrong. There were only four: Abraham’s relatives. They were spared.
Even though Abraham as wrong, the incident is significant in
• Showing the trust and confidence Abraham had in his relationship with God.
• Demonstrating God’s interest in bringing Abraham into the information loop.
• Revealing the power of covenant to bring deliverance. (Lot was saved because of the covenant tie between Abraham and God.)
Abraham’s faith has increased mightily. He is walking and talking like a man with authority. This is not arrogance. It is confidence, confidence in God and his relationship with God.
Covenant Confidence Available to All:
When you understand and enter into covenant relationship with God, your confidence soars. Your faith enlarges. And your prayers carry covenant-based authority and faith-filled power.
Pray for an ever-increasing revelation of Covenant. In the words of Lou Engle, pray to be baptized in Covenant confidence, just as Abraham was. May each of us be so expanded in faith as to leave a record behind us for faith-filled lives, just as Abraham did.
If you've read this far, than be certain to check out:
The Confession of Faith - understanding the dynamic of Faith
The Names of God - Abraham's faith grew as he understood more and more who God was - access this list and start working on it today!