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Faith is essential to effective praying. It is simply trust - it is confidence in the ability of God to do what He promises to do in His Word.

One great writer on the subject of prayer, said: 'A person's prayer life is only as strong as that person's trust in God.'

Because trust and confidence is essential to effective praying we must put this important word under the spiritual microscope and examine it in detail. Corrie Ten Boom labels it as a 'fantastic adventure in trusting Him'.

The dictionary defines it as 'trust in the honesty and truth of another'.

If we are to be effective in prayer then we must believe God is honest in what He says in the Bible. The Bible contains many references to faith.

There is saving faith spoken of by Paul in Ephesians 2.8. There is the 'gift of faith' again spoken by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12.9. The great Apostle also speaks in Ephesians of the 'unity of the faith' (Ephesians 4.13).

The faith of which I am now speaking, however, is what some describe as simple faith - the innate ability to trust. John Bisagno, speaking of simple faith, says, 'Don't get the idea that if you can only muster more faith, you will be effective in prayer.

Faith is not some mysterious commodity to be sought after. You do not need more faith: you need to learn to appropriate the faith you already have .. .' It is important to see, of course, that John Bisagno is focusing here on the innate ability we all have, to trust and believe.

He is not speaking of the 'gift of faith' nor of any other kind of faith and his words must not be pressed out of context. Every man and woman on the face of the earth has a basic ability to believe and trust, and when they exercise that ability they are exercising faith.

A theologian in the 18th century said that faith consisted of three parts; knowledge, self committal and trust.

Dr Billy Graham, taking up this definition says; 'I know from what I read that a jet plane can take me from New York to London.

That is knowledge - the first ingredient of faith. But unless I take the next step -self committal- and step on board the aircraft then I have no hope of getting to my destination.

But even then faith is not complete, for unless I trust myself to the aircraft, and completely surrender to its efficiency, I will sit in my seat with great apprehension, fear and insecurity.'

Faith, in terms of our present thinking in relation to prayer, can be described as follows: it is the willingness to act on God's Word with complete abandonment and total trust.

The Apostle Peter provides a good example of this - he was willing to act on one single word of Jesus, 'Come'. When he acted on that word he was able to walk on water. (Matthew 14.29).

When we believe, really believe we act as if we have what God has promised, irrespective of whether we can actually see the answer to our prayers or not. John Bisagno shares a touching story on this point.

His five year old daughter came to him one day, whilst he was in his study, and asked him to build her a doll's house. He promised that he would and then went back to reading his book.

'Soon' he says 'I glanced out of the window and saw my daughter with her arms filled with dishes, toys and dolls, making her pilgrimage to the corner of the yard where, by now, she had gathered a pile of playthings.

I asked my wife what the purpose of this impossible pile could be. 'You promised her a doll's house' she replied 'and now she believes in you. She's just getting ready for it.'

John said, 'I threw the book aside, raced to the lumber yard for supplies" and quickly built my little girl the doll's house.' God delights in faith.

The Scripture says, 'He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.' (Hebrews 11.6).

The greatest thing we can do to please God is believe Him! I have suggested earlier that it is important to read the Word of God before we pray, but another reason for this is because the reading of God's Word quickens our faith.

'Faith comes by hearing' says Paul 'and hearing by the Word of God.' (Romans 10.17) God's Word produces faith, and faith produces power for prayer.

Prayer, faith and the Word of God are directly related. They strengthen one another. So when you pray, begin to exercise the muscles of your faith by committing yourself more and more to what God has promised you in His Word.

Step out in faith, as Peter did on the water. You may feel yourself sinking at times, but don't worry - the Lord will be on hand to deliver you.

The more you exercise your faith the more expert you will become in the art of prayer . You see it is not enough to simply ask God for things, we must believe for them also.

Jesus said 'Whatsoever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them and you shall have them (Matthew 21:21)

Remember again our definition of faith - the willingness to act on God’s Word with complete abandonment and trust. If you are sure that what you ask is according to God's Word then don't just ask for it, believe for it.

The initiative is in heaven. Only your unbelief can stop it coming out. Glory to God.

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