With my preschooler strapped into his car seat behind me, I pressed on the accelerator and prepared to ease my van into the flow of traffic on the interstate. We were probably singing along with a Wee Sing cassette tape, Daniel bopping his head up and down to the catchy beat, me stumbling over the too familiar words.
Then it happened again.
My van began to sputter and stall instead of accelerating. We had a full tank of gas, but it wasn’t doing it’s job.
That van continued to give us problems for as long as we owned it. At the worst possible moments it would have a fueling failure and leave me panicking.
Sometimes My Faith Experiences a Fuel Fail
I don’t drive that van anymore, but I still experience those frustrating power fails. Not on the highway, but as I try to persevere through difficult life situations.
Romans 5:3-5 instructs me to press on during times of trouble because eventually I will get to the other side, having developed more Christlike character and having experienced an outpouring of God’s love and faithfulness through it all. And I do. I press on. I know you do, too.
That takes faith, doesn’t it? Faith fuels our perseverance.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Hebrews 11 provides us a long list of men and women who, by faith, conquered nations, tumbled walls, passed through obstacles, escaped bondage, overcame temptation and triumphed over their foes.
But do you, like me, ever experience days when you struggle to move forward because it feels like your faith isn’t getting you anywhere? Or maybe you take five steps forward in faith only to fall back three steps in frustration, doubt or fear. I’ve done that, too.
Maybe It’s Time to Examine Our Faith
Eventually my husband and I realized that our temperamental van had fuel issues. As I said, it continued to have flare ups as long as we owned it. But we did learn to carefully select where we purchased fuel, too. When we upgraded our fuel our van got us down the road more reliably.
Too often my faith has been fueled by a particular desired outcome or a promise I’ve claimed for myself. My faith is full of hopeful expectations and maybe even some grit and determination, but short on biblical substance. And then I’ve wondered why my faith didn’t get me up the hard hills much less cast my mountains into the sea!
True Mountain Moving Faith
It’s true, Jesus assured His disciples that if they believed without doubt then they could say to their mountains, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” and it would happen. But He also gave them very narrow specifications about the kind of faith that would accomplish such feats. (see Mark 11:22-24)
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22)
That’s the kind of directive I tend to gloss over, eager to focus on the amazing promise Jesus offers on its heels. But I believe those four one-syllable words deserve a second glance, maybe even a longer gaze.
Misplaced faith ultimately causes me to doubt God in the same way I learned to distrust my temperamental van. But that’s not God’s fault; it’s mine for fueling my faith with the wrong substance.
The Substance of Biblical Faith
To have faith in God does not mean that I have faith that He will do a specific thing. Jesus doesn’t instruct His disciples to have faith that God will remove the barriers or mountains in their path. He tells them to have faith in God.
I think Jesus instructed His disciples with four simple words because He wants us to practice a very bare bones, simplified faith. Instead of contriving a desired solution to our problems or hunting for very specific scripture promises to name and claim over our situation, I think Jesus wants us to simply have…faith…in…God.
To have faith in God means we put our trust and dependence in:
- God’s character
- God’s Word
- God’s ways
Recently I’ve tried changing up my prayers somewhat based on my understanding of this kind of simplistic but powerful faith. In prayer, I’m fueling my faith with God alone.
When I’m praying about a particular situation, I first honestly express my heart to Him, perhaps even sharing what I’d like to see happen. But then I entrust the problem to Him, expressing faith in who He is, what He says in His Word and what I know He can do, which is not what He necessarily will do in my situation.
As I pray through each of those components of my faith in God, I might say something like this:
- who He is – “Lord, I know You are good…and You are always good to me. You are powerful and able to do more than I can think or imagine. You are sovereign, completely in control of this situation. It has not taken you by surprise. And You are omniscient. You see this situation from Your unique omniscient perspective, so You know things about it that I do not know. Still, You are just and will do what is right. And You are faithful…always. Therefore, I have faith in You.”
- what He says in His Word – “Lord, You have promised never to leave me or forsake me, and that You will always go with me into every situation. (Deuteronomy 31:6) You tell me that Your ways are not my ways, and that I cannot comprehend what you are doing. (Isaiah 55:9) But you also tell me that You are always working all things together for my good. (Romans 8:28) I know that You are doing something, and if You were to try to explain it to me I would not even begin to understand how it’s all going to work. But it will. (Habakuk 1:5) And You tell me in Your Word that You love me deeply and that I’m always on Your mind. (Psalm 40:5) Therefore, I have faith in You.”
- what He can do because He has in the past – “Lord, I know that You can change the hearts of men because You changed Paul’s heart. I know You can destroy that which stands in the way because You caused the walls of Jericho to tumble down. I know You can move me safely through any obstacle because You dried up the Red Sea for Your people to cross. And I know You can give me favor even among those who do not currently esteem me because You gave Joseph favor in the eyes of Pharaoh. I know you can do these things and more, but I trust You to do what is right in my situation. I have faith in You.”
Fewer Fuel Fails
Honestly, when I first began practicing these kinds of faith statements in my prayer time, I continued to experience fuel fails later in my day. When I’d get a phone call with bad news or experience an unexpected rejection or hear that something hadn’t gone as I’d hoped, my faith would sputter and stall.
But with daily practice and prayer God has truly begun to strengthen and refine my faith. I falter less often because I’m no longer putting my faith in specific outcomes that I had hoped for but that didn’t materialize. Instead I’m putting my faith in the character, Word, and ways of God…who never fails or changes and always keeps His promises. When I “have faith in God” I can persevere to the other side.
Are you experiencing fuel fails in an area where you are trying to persevere with faith? Why not take the time to write out simple prayers based on the models above, putting your trust in God’s character, His Word and His ways? Make sure your statements are supported with scriptures and begin to pray these prayers each day, maybe multiple times each day. I think you’ll find your faith fortified and your hope restored.
If you need help finding scriptures that identify God’s character and ways, I’d like to suggest my 31-day devotional guide, A Taste of Satisfaction. You can find out more and order the book from Amazon. (This Amazon link is an affiliate link, so if you use the link to order from them I will receive a small commission, but it does not affect your cost.)