How To Grow In Faith
Faith grows. We do not have to be upset when we notice that we do not yet have faith to move mountains ... or to raise the dead. In the book of Acts, we see that Peter first healed a cripple (Acts 3:1-11). Then, with great power he healed others (Acts 4:33). Then he healed multitudes and his very shadow was healing people (Acts 5:15-16). Finally, we find Peter rising a dead disciple named Tabitha (Acts 9:39-42).
Faith grows. When people get baptized in the Spirit, they often feel nervous and guilty about the way they exercise faith. They read the promises Christ made to those who have faith, and they think they shold be able to do all those things at once. Sometimes they are afraid to try anything, because they think it might not happen, and they would lose the little faith that they have. Or they try to pray for something, and it doesn't happen, and they feel guilty about having little faith. Then they go about life as if God isn't there, or won't listen to them. They go about like orphans.
The fact is that the Lord is not looking for mature, fully-formed faith all at once. He only wants us to be ready to grow in faith. He wants us to expect to grow in faith. He doesn't want us to be anxious about the shortcomings of our faith. He wants us to look to Him, the author and finisher of our faith.
Hebrews 12:2a Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith ...
Often God builds our faith through our experiences. Our faith is fed when we see God act. God also builds our faith through people who have faith. If we live with believers who have faith, we will find faith growing in us. But the Bible gives us the key:
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We need to pay good undivided attention to the Word of God. As we listen or read with whole-hearted attention, we come into a state that the Bible calls "hearing". It comes by the Word of God whole-heartedly listened to or read. Once we have "heard" God speaking His Word, faith comes.
So let's listen to and read God's Word with faith, let's keep company with believers who have faith. And let's use faith again and again, for small things and for big things, to pray for healaings of all sorts, to pray for supplies of things we need but cannot find or afford, to pray that God fix machines that are not working, to pray to find things that are missing, to meet each situation more consistently in faith. Such consistent asking will result in experiences of God answering prayers made in faith. The more experiences we have, the more our faith will be built. We will find ourselves having more faith and expecting God to do more all the time.
Listen to God's Word
In order for us to grow in faith, we have to hear God speak to us. He speaks to us most often as we listen carefully to the Word of God being read, or as we read it aloud ourselves. If someone else is reading the Word aloud to us (in a meeting, for instance), it is good if we can follow the reading in our own Bibles. Thus the Word gets into our personalities through the ear and through the eye, and finds its way into our hearts where it proceeds to act and from where it carries out what it promises.
God's Word to us may also come through prophecy, or through tongues and interpretation, or through other believers speaking things (or writing or emailing things) that are prompted by the Spirit, even though they do not know at that time how relevant their communication is to us.
Pray for Faith
Prayer for fith is a prayer that God always answers, because it is His will that we have faith.
1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Be willing to try acting in Faith
God wants us to be unafraid. He expects us to learn to have faith, and He will give us faith. If we want to grow in faith for healing, we should pray with people to be healed, and even pray for ourselves to be healed. If we do not have teh faith to expect God to do things in a certain area, we can at least trust Him enough to expect Him to increase our faith. We may have to be persistent like the man who went to his friend at night and demanded loaves of bread. We should not hold back until we have perfect faith.
Do not try to work up feelings of Faith, but look to the Lord
Faith is a gift of God. It is not a feeling that we have to work up inside. When we do have faith, we have an assurance that God will act. When try to have faith, we are usually trying to produce teh feeling of assurance inside us. Then we may find that we do not pray for someone, or do not speak in a meeting, or do anything until we have worked up the feeling of assurance. The harder we try to have faith, the less it works! That's because in making such attempts, we are concentrating on ourselves. We are putting our faith in our feeling of assurance, rather in in Christ. We are thinking that if we feel a certain way, things will happen.
It is a fact that trying to produce a certain feeling is one of the worst ways of actually getting that feeling. The more we try to produce the feeling of faith, the harder to actually experience it.
We grow in faith, not by looking at our feelings, but by looking to the Lord. He often works in spite of our contrary feelings.
So do not try to work up feelings of faith. Just let's fill our minds with His promises, memories of what He has done in the past, facts about the Lord, how powerful He is, how wise He is, how loving He is, how faithful to His promises He is.
Pray for things with confidence
Let's not beg God for things. We beg from a person who, we believe, will never give us what we are asking for. God wants us to approach Him confidently, as a son or daughter who are sure of their Father. So, as we ask, we should be thanking him for what He will do, confessing His power and sovereignty and praising Him. The manner of our prayer should itself be an act of faith, rather than an indication of our lack of faith.
Jesus said that the Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
When we acknowledge that teh Father is sovereign over heaven and earth, that He has given all power to Jseus, when we recall His love for us in giving us His only-begotten Son, when we consider how much He wants to do for us, then we are beginning to pray in spirit and in truth. And we do that, our prayer becomes effective, for the Father seeketh such.
Resist spirits of doubt and fear
There are many things in us that work against faith. There are fears and doubts, hesitancies, confusions and anxieties. But there are external obstacles too. Evil spirits try to stir up our fears and doubts, hesitancies, confusions and anxieties, and make it more difficult for us to have faith. Here's what the apostles (James, Peter and Paul) tell us to do about this.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith ...
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The evil spirits often work upon us through lies. They begin to put thoughts into our minds that God will let us down, that He is undependable, or that God will never listen to someone like us, or that we do not have enough faith, or that it didn't work last time, or that it didn't work for so-and-so. When we listen to those thoughts and believe them, our faith begins to drain away. What we should do, as the apostles tell us, is to resist these thoughts. We should say to ourselves, to the devil, and to God, "I know what the truth is, and these thoughts are not the truth."
Another way the evil spirits work upon us is through our feelings. We think, "If I feel that way, that's how it must be." We think that if we feel we can't do something, it means that we can't do it. We don't have to follow our feelings. If we follow our feelings, demons will have a field day with us, because they can more easily workon our feelings than any other aspect of us. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to follow the Lord no matter how we feel. We can and should claim that opwer and begin to act on it. We should recall the truth (what the Lord says on the subject), and act in faith, even when we are opposed by feelings of fear and doubt.