When my son, Kevin was about four-years-old, I bought him a helium filled balloon. As soon as we got outside, he intentionally let the balloon go. He watched as it floated higher and higher in the sky until he couldn’t see it any longer. Then he exclaimed with delight, “Take care of my balloon, Jesus.”
Later that evening as I thought about Kevin’s sweet gesture, I contemplated how many times I have released prayers to heaven like a balloon. The difference was, somehow as an adult, I really wasn’t sure if those prayers reached the destination or if they popped on the way there.
For many of us, it seems as we grow older, life crashes over us like violent waves on the ocean. One difficult event after another can cause us to become jaded and lose hope that God really hears or cares about our little prayers. Deep inside we may think thoughts like: If God really cared then why did_____________happen?
And others of us have grown up in the ritual of religion. We attend church out of duty and our prayers have become standard, stale and cliché.
Where do you land when it comes to prayer?
WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR PRAYERS TO GO BEYOND THE CEILING?
I believe that most of us know and would agree that prayer is simply communication with God. But this isn’t just any communication. This is communication with our creator, the Almighty God.
So what does it take to communicate with God?
PRAYER REQUIRES FAITH
Let’s face it, to talk to an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God requires some faith. The question is: what’s the size of your faith?
The Bible teaches that God has given all of us ‘the gift of faith’ in the same measure. We all start off with the same amount of faith.
Romans 12:3 “...in accordance with THE faith God has distributed to each of you.” (emphasis added)
Every believer has a measure of God-given faith. He doesn’t give one person more faith than He gives another. He gives to every man THE measure of faith. Then your faith grows according to what you do with it.
I don’t know about you, but I often feel like the man in the Bible passage below who says to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” I interpret this as, “I have faith, but help my faith grow.” Take a look:
“A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:17-25
This gives me hope because it shows we can increase in our faith. I have learned at least three simple ways to increase faith.
THREE WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR FAITH
1. READ THE WORD
Or at least listen to it. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:17
If we’d never been told (or read about) Jesus, we’d be clueless about our need for faith.
I think of the Word of God like planting a garden. God’s word is the seed that grows our faith and needs to be planted in our hearts, then taken care of like a garden. God doesn’t just plop eternal knowledge into our brains when we become Christians. He expects us to grow.
We must become familiar with the Bible and what faith is by learning and meditating on its contents. Take a look at what Jesus says in Mark 24:
“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” (Mark 4:24-25 NIV)
2. APPLY THE WORD
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James 1:22-24
In order to increase our faith, we need to use that “measure” of faith God gives to everyone and build on it.
3. TEST THE WORD
I’m not talking about “testing” God by seeing how far His patience will go. I’m referring to “proving” God is faithful and true to His word. Malachi 3:9-11 (NIV) offers one way the Lord says we can prove Him faithful to His Word. This passage is about tithing and being good stewards: “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” As we “test” or act on what God says and experience God’s blessing, our faith grows.
Sometimes testing the measure of our faith may involve trials and difficulties. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 NIV
We all know that life is hard. No one escapes hardships of some kind or another. What’s important is how we respond to the difficult situations that we will face. It’s God desire that we grow closer to Him during hard times as well as good times.
It’s up to you what you do with ‘the measure of faith’ God has given you. But you’re the one who increases it, not God. Certainly God furnishes the means whereby faith can be increased.
But you can increase your faith by doing three things: reading the Word of God, applying the word—or putting it into practice and proving the Word of God faithful.