Next, we need to be encouraged by coming to an understanding that God has put an important limitation to what we should pray for. He has made many, many promises to His people in the Bible. So we need to know His Word and what He has given as a promise. Just as FAITH is the SUBSTANCE of our desires, so His promises are the raw material of His desires, His hope for us. Get that! His PROMISES are His DESIRE for us! We can hove our faith electrified by repeating that phrase again and again: “His promises are his desire for us…”, and they are expressed in words, phrases, sentences in the Scriptures!
PROMISES. What are promises? When Peter showed his amazement at the withering of the fig tree which Jesus cursed, the Lord said to him, “Peter, have FAITH in GOD [the REAL PERSONAL GOD]. Now whatever you ask in prayer, BELIEVE that you HAVE RECEIVED it, and IT WILL BE YOURS.” How can you believe that you have received something that you cannot se, fell, or tastes? Suppose your son comes to you and asks for a peppermint stick, and you say, “You’ve just had lunch. Come back at 3 o’clock, and I’ll give you one.” So, knowing the faithfulness of his parents, he KNOWS he has it, right on the dot!
So, we need to know the Scriptures to know what we should ask for. So we have faith. We have faith in God, believing He IS, as a PERSON, WE HAVE FAITH FOR HIS WORD for us! “Without FAITH it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists, AND that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
In our language, “believing” is somewhat different from “faith”, at least in the way we use the words. FAITH is a substance, a gift, a noun. BELIEVING is a stand we take with a tenet, a concept, to hold as true – a statement. In the Scriptures they often overlap, are intertwined. We must HAVE faith; but we ACT believing!
We MUST believe when we pray – not just believe in God, but believe that He IS, that He exists; and believe that He hears; and believe that He responds; and believe that He is a REWARDER to those who EARNESTLY seek Him and His WILL, His PROMISES. I expect that James had in mind those of us who are contrary to the above when he said, “A double-minded man is unstable in all he does…”
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation“, Number 36 (February 1984).