Faith and prayer go hand-in-hand, since it’s impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). You wouldn’t be praying if you didn’t believe God was listening. So maybe we should start this discussion by asking, “What is faith?”
What is faith?
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Faith is when you know for sure that God’s Word is true, and you act on it. You have a conviction that God can never lie, and that if He says something, it is true. The King James Version says that faith is the “evidence” of things not seen. I have plenty of tangible evidence of God in my own life, but that evidence became a reality because I trusted God in the first place.
How does faith start?
Your first prayer (the one for salvation) is done in faith. This faith is given to you by God as a gift, so you did not drum up any faith on your own. It is a present.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 ESV
So the initial seed of faith is planted in your heart by God, and it grows from there.
Can you pray without faith?
Yes. Even though it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6), if you recognize that you have no faith, you can ask God to give you faith.
“…If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:22b-24 ESV
This man wanted his son to stop being tormented, and even though he was asking Jesus to heal his son, his words showed a lack of belief. Jesus healed the boy anyway, showing that people don’t have to have faith to be healed. Jesus never failed in being able to heal someone, because He is God.
But if you doubt God, why should He answer you?
If you understand who God is, why on earth would you ever doubt Him? I’m talking about God’s Word. You insult God by doubting Him, because you make Him out to be a liar. It’s a slap in His face. This is why, for example, if you ask God for wisdom, He will for sure give it to you. But if you don’t believe He can give you wisdom, you will not get wisdom from God.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8 ESV
You see, this verse says that wisdom WILL be given to you if you ask God. That’s what God’s Word says, and God is not a liar. So I ask God, and He gives me wisdom. (More about that here: How to Pray for Wisdom.)
Can faith move mountains? How?
Faith is compared to a mustard seed, which is quite small. My sister gave me a pin with a vial of mustard seeds. If you click on the picture, you will see the size of the individual mustard seeds as compared with my hand:
Jesus says that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains.
And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. (Matthew 17:20 NASB)
I’ve pondered this passage for a long time, and I’m thrilled to tell you what I’ve learned. The reason faith only has to be a tiny seed is that God does the work. The Holy Spirit will bear witness that God’s Word is true, and you will be able to rely on God’s Word more and more as you purge sin from your life and yield to Him. The more you know God, the more faith you will have, because God is incredibly stable and reliable, and He reveals Himself to us as we spend time with Him.
God plants the seed of faith in us, and it grows as we learn to trust Him. Besides studying Scripture to get to know God and delight in Him, prayer has been the greatest vehicle through which I have grown in my faith. This is because the more I trust Him, the more He answers my prayers, and the more He answers my prayers, the more faith I have. The key is aligning my will to God’s heart, and then the impossible happens all the time because my will and God’s will are the same.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him. I John 5:14-15
For more explanation about this passage, read Does Praying Boldly Imply Presumption?
For a free prayer e-book, like my Prayer Page.
I also have 17 free prayer audios here: Prayer Audios (Scroll down to the audio section to download the audios.)Tweet