By R. A. Torrey
“How to Pray”
If we are to pray with power we must pray with faith. In Mark 11:24, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
No matter how positive any promise of God’s Word may be, we will not enjoy it in actual experience unless we confidently expect its fulfillment in answer to our prayer.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
Now that promise is as positive as a promise can be, but the next two verses add, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
There must be confident unwavering expectation. But there is a faith that goes beyond expectation, that believes that the prayer is heard and the promise granted. Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
But how can one get this faith?
Let us emphasize that it cannot be pumped up. Many a person reads this promise about the prayer of faith, and then asks for things that he desires and tries to make himself believe that God has heard the prayer. This ends only in disappointment, for it is not real faith and the thing is not granted. It is at this point that many people make a collapse of faith altogether by trying to work up faith by an effort of their will. As the thing they made themselves believe they expected to get is not given, the very foundation of faith is oftentimes undermined.
But how does real faith come?
Romans 10:17 answers the question. ” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
If we are to have real faith, we must study the Word of God and find out what is promised, then simply believe the promises of God. Faith must have a warrant. Trying to believe something that you want to believe is not faith. Believing what God says in His Word is faith. If I am to have faith when I pray, I must find some promise in the Word of God on which to rest my faith.
Faith furthermore comes through the Spirit. The Spirit knows the will of God, and if I praying the Spirit, and look to the Spirit to teach me God’s will, He will lead me out in prayer along the line of that will, and give me faith that the prayer is to be answered. But in no case does real faith come by simply determining that you are going to get the thing that you want to get.
If there is no promise in the Word of God, and no clear leading of the Spirit, there can be no real faith, and there should be no berating of self for lack of faith in such a case.
But if the thing desired is promised in the Word of God, we may well criticize ourselves for lack of faith if we doubt, for we are making God a liar by doubting His Word.