E.M. Bounds wrote in his book The Necessity of Prayer that “trust grows nowhere so readily and richly as in the prayer chamber.”
I’d guess that most of us understand on some level that we need to increase our trust in God. After all, faith and trust are inseparable. You cannot have faith in something you do not trust, and as trust grows, so does faith.
So, we must ask this question: Is trust tied to prayer? Is increasing faith in God truly as simple as focusing more on prayer? And if so, what does that look like? A prayer closet? More time on our knees? A prayer formula of some sort?
Faith Doesn’t Come First
Trust in the person of God must precede trust in the Word of God. ~E.M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer
The Gospels spend a lot of time telling stories of when Jesus healed people. A few examples are:
- A leper in Galilee, Matthew 8:2-4
- The servant of a Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13
- Two blind men, Matthew 9:27-31
- A man possessed by an evil spirit, Mark 1:23-27
- Peter’s mother-in-law, Mark 1:30-31
- Deaf man who could hardly talk, Mark 7:32-35
- Man with a withered hand, Luke 6:6-10
- Woman who had been bleeding for years, Luke 8:43-48
- Servant with the cut off ear, Luke 22:49-51
- Royal Official’s son, John 4:46-53
- Lame man, John 5:2-9
Sometimes, people approached Jesus with humility, saying something like the leper in Matthew 8: Lord, if you are willing.
Occasionally, as Jesus worked, He said something similar to what He told the blind men in Matthew 9: According to your faith will it be done to you.
Every once in a while, He bluntly told the person exactly why they had been healed, like the bleeding woman in Luke 8: Your faith has healed you.
Not Entirely about Faith
I think that in every sermon I’ve ever heard on these miraculous healings of Jesus, the preacher points out faith. And clearly, faith is a large and rather obvious component.
But we miss another equally important component of these healings: trust.
Consider this: Who asks something of another without first trusting that the person can deliver? Would the leper have approached Jesus without trusting that Jesus could heal his leprosy? Would the Centurion have sought Jesus out without trusting that the sickness would yield to Jesus’s word?
You may think I’m skipping over hope. Maybe, you think, instead of trusting that Jesus would heal, the blind man hoped that Jesus could heal.
Absolutely! But isn’t hope the beginning of trust?
Increasing Faith with Prayer
Hope looks toward the future. Trust looks to the present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. ~E.M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer
If we think of prayer as approaching God, as taking the time to get to know Him, then it is easier to see that prayer is a necessary part of our relationship with Him. And if we want to improve our relationship with God, we need to take three steps.
1. Understand the connection between trust, faith, and prayer.
When it comes to huge topics like prayer, many of us like to gloss over the deeper parts and just get to the practical How To. But it’s much easier to stick with a habit if we understand the reasons we choose to do it.
Sometimes, I don’t want to work on my prayer life. It’s a discipline that takes work, and I get lazy or apathetic or stressed by life. But when I remember that prayer is vital to my relationship with Jesus, that I can trust God more by simply taking the time to talk with Him, it becomes less of a chore and more of a desire.
2. Commit to spending more focused time in prayer.
Yes, this probably means more time for most of us, but it also means more intentionality for most of us. Prayer should not be a time when we hand our To Do list to God and walk away. We know that — but that tends to be our default.
Put good relationship building strategies into practice. Ask open ended questions, and wait for God’s answer. Sometimes, I simply pray, “I don’t understand. Help me to know what you are trying to tell me.”
3. Recognize and compensate for your weaknesses.
I’m forgetful, particularly when it comes to the things of God. I combat this in two ways.
First, I keep a prayer journal. And I hate journaling, so this one is tough for me. But I also know that writing down my prayers reminds me of what I’ve taken to the Lord, and keeping track of His answers beside the prayers reminds me that He’s listening and talking back to me.
Second, I keep my prayer journal on my desk where I see it often throughout the day. It’s a quiet reminder to jot down new concerns, to spend a moment talking to God about them, and to write down His responses.
Trust is not a belief that God can bless, that he will bless, but that he does bless, here and now. ~E.M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer
Prayer is something that most of us recognize we need to do better, yet it is a discipline that I suspect we will never master while we live on this earth.
Like so many things we want to improve in our lives, purposefully taken simple steps will get us to where we want to go. What step forward will you take this week?
The biggest impact to my prayer life — to growing in both faith and trust in God — has been keeping track of God’s answers to my prayers. The change was so astounding, I wanted to share my simple format with others.
Have you ever wanted to keep track of your prayer requests AND the answers God provided in an easy to read format? Me too! But I’ve never found one I liked.
In my new prayer journal, you’ll find short monthly devotions, inspiring quotes, and space to keep track of the answers with the prayers, side-by-side, so you can easily look back to see what God said and when He showed up! Also includes verses on prayer and sample prayers straight from Scripture to help you pray God’s Word in your everyday life.