faith, the bedrock of prayer

In any study undertaken of the principles and procedures of prayer, necessity demands that the first place must be given to faith.

It is the initial quality in the heart of any Christian who would talk to the Unseen. Out of our sheer helplessness, we have no choice but to stretch out hands of faith. We must believe, where we cannot prove. In it’s ultimate issue, prayer is faith; it is faith claiming it’s natural, yet supernatural prerogatives – faith taking possession of it’s unlimited inheritance in Christ. Understand this: when faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live.

Faith is prayers life blood, and without faith, prayer is pointless. See, faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake for us, and nothing is impossible with God. Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world. Only God can move mountains, but it is the prayer offered in faith that moves God. Edward McKendree Bounds, the great Methodist pastor of the 19th century, rightly said that, “Prayer moves the arm that moves the universe.”

Faith is the foundation of Christian character and the security of the soul. When Jesus was looking forward to Peter’s denial, and cautioning Him against it, He said,

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” — Jesus, Luke 22.31-32

Our Lord was declaring a central truth -it was Peter’s faith He was seeking to guard, for He knew full well that when faith is broken down the foundations of spiritual life give way, and the entire structure of religious experience fails. It was Peter’s faith that needed guarding, hence Christ’s concern for the welfare of His disciple’s soul, and His determination to fortify Peter’s faith by His own all-prevailing prayer.

In his second letter, this is what Peter has in mind when speaking of growth in grace as a measure of safety in the Christian life, and as implying fruitfulness.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, ” — Peter, 2 Peter 1.5-6

In this additive process, faith was the starting point – the basis of all the other graces of the Spirit. Faith was the foundation on which everything else is to be built. Peter doesn’t direct his readers to add to works or gifts or virtues, but to faith.

There is a divine order that Peter was aware of. So he goes on to declare that we are to be even more diligent to make our call and election sure. Our election is made certain by adding to our faith; we add to our faith by constant, earnest praying.

This is how faith is kept alive by prayer, and ever step taken in this adding of grace to grace is accompanied by prayer…

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