“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
Faith is defined in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, first verse, and illustrations are given (explained) in the remaining verses of this chapter.
Faith is something we all wish we had more of. Jesus said in Luke 17:6 “…If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (NIV)
What we think takes a large amount of; i.e. faith, Jesus says actually takes very little. So apparently most of us fall in the zero and under range.
I believe that God, in His boundless grace, has made it possible that we only need a “smidgen” to work with. This is only my opinion, but I believe it to be so. He knows we are human, weak and frail so He doesn’t put more on us than we can bear. I also recall Jesus saying, “…Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NIV)
I would hope that all of us, as Christians, would like to have more faith. Going back to Luke 17 we see that the apostles wanted the same. “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5 NIV) If you recall, this is when Jesus responded with the mustard seed comparison.
Is it possible to grow in faith, or as some prefer to phrase it, “have more faith?” By reading the Bible and through the personal experience of millions of Christians over the ages, the answer can be nothing other than a resounding “Yes!”
Now it is time to insert the “However.” “However” is needed because some seem to think God has a funnel He keeps in His pocket to pour additional faith through and into our spiritual being. Not so.
Have you been guilty of asking God, “Lord, give me more faith?” I have. Perhaps we all have at one stage or another of our Christian life. Sadly though, most of us don’t connect God’s response with our request.
I believe, from personal experience, that there are at least three things that are necessary for our faith to grow. The first two are obvious, or at least they should be. The first is found in Psalms 119:105 and the second is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, but what is the third?
Let me say first that these two verses are not the only two on their respective topics. There are many more. Enrich your life by searching them out.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalms 119:105 KJV)
I personally do not see any way possible to have a stronger faith without reading the Bible. What Jesus has to say to each and every one of us as Christians is critically important for our spiritual growth.
If a student does not listen in school (elementary, junior, high, college or trade … doesn’t matter) they will go through life with a severe shortfall of knowledge. They will be severely handicapped in getting a job and will be limited in the type of job they may acquire. Not only that, they may be limited in doing the job they have as it should be done.
A wise child will listen to their parents loving advice. For one reason, they may avoid the same mistakes their parents may have made. For another, they can take advantage of the knowledge their parents have obtained over the years. They can blaze new trails of success, instead of being a knucklehead all their lives. They can avoid harmful situations and broken hearts and lives, if they will just listen to those who are more knowledgeable.
It is no different for any Christian. Jesus would never tell us something that would be harmful to us. To the contrary, we could avoid many pitfalls by listening to His Words. They are not only words of wisdom, but the very Truth of God, for He is God. As we listen to him by the Word He left us, the Bible, our faith grows because we know that what He says can always be trusted.
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)
Constant communication with our Heavenly Father is another must for growing in faith. We call it prayer. One thing about prayer, we can pray anytime, anywhere, for any reason. He is always listening to us.
Many Christians have a poor prayer life for one reason; they don’t pray. The only way to improve your prayer life is to actually pray. Just do it. It may seem awkward at first, but as we keep praying, it will be as natural as talking to our parents, our siblings, our spouse, our children, to anyone. Maybe it is difficult at first because we can’t actually see Him with our physical eyes, but as we continue in our prayer life, we realize He is listening and He cares.
As we continue in our prayer life, we find ourselves talking to our Lord just as we should; anytime, anywhere, and for any reason. We find ourselves looking forward to it. We find that our prayers are longer because we just have so much to say.
By the way, it isn’t the length of the prayer that matters. Some prayers should be kept short; such as in public or for a specific purpose for example. Other prayers might be longer because we are alone and just want to spend quality time talking to Him.
As we spend each day in prayer and in the Bible our faith is growing. Perhaps it isn’t even noticed by us at first, but it is. Our faith is growing because we are maturing. We’re growing from a spiritual child to a spiritual adult. I find it tragic that so many adults, who are adults physically, are still children spiritually. If you are an adult and have just been saved, it is understandable, but not when one has been a Christian for many years.
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (2 Peter 1:7 KJV)
So the third item that is needed for strengthening our faith is for our faith to be tested. Now understand God does not tempt us. We are not talking about temptation, but testing. However, our faith can also grow through responding to temptation as Jesus did with the devil (Matthew 4:1-11).
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” (James 1:13 KJV)
Temptation not only comes from Satan and his minions but more often than not, our own hearts.
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15 KJV)
Satan will use temptations in an attempt to foil us and he will also use adversities that come into our lives to weaken our faith.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8 KJV)
I guess Satan never did learn (remember Job), because through trials a Christian’s faith can actually grow.
If everything always goes smoothly in our lives without any adversities, can we grow in faith? I don’t think we can. Our faith must be tested to make it stronger, just as our muscles must be tested (exercised) to make them stronger and just as our minds must be used to make them stronger.
Let’s face it, none of us enjoy adversity. Not only that, we just don’t want it. I’m with you. I’ve had enough, and I really don’t care for anymore. Some adversity isn’t too onerous, but on the other hand, there are other adversities that are just down-right scary. Leave me out of it! Agreed?
Sorry, but that just isn’t how life works. Life is a series of adversities. The bad news is original sin has laid upon us all many adversities. The good news is we can come through any adversity stronger than ever, but only when we trust God at His Word.
Each time we exercise our faith it gets a little stronger. Now that doesn’t mean that everything always works out the way we want, but it does mean that God will see to it that it works out for our good if we belong to Him.
As 2 Peter 1:7 says (above), we can come out of the fire like gold that has been purified, and not only that, but bring much praise, glory and honor to ourselves on the day Jesus Christ will be revealed to the whole world.
So do we still long for God to increase our faith? If so, listen to Him by diligently reading the Bible, talking to Him through continual prayer, and standing strong by trusting in Him as a small child.
The Lord Jesus Christ has promised that our faith will increase when we focus our lives upon Him. He has given us His Word (the Bible). He has provided open communication directly to the throne of God (prayer). He allows opportunities of testing in our lives that we may then use the faith He has provided us and grow in Him.
Each time we use this faith, it grows. Just as a seed planted in the ground keeps growing when nurtured, our faith will grow. It will eventually burst forth from its pod and break through the ground, until its leaves reach toward Heaven.