FAITH AND PERSEVERANCE
If humility is the basis of our approach to God, without faith and perseverance, prayer will achieve nothing. Unlike the pagans, who “pray” to get what they want, God’s children draw near to Him because they are family, and family are held together by the bonds of love and trust. Children look to their Father because they trust Him. They know Him and they are confident that He will always do what is best for them. They don’t give up because they know that He will keep His promises to them.
Faith is a non-negotiable attitude in our interaction with this God through prayer. Our entire lives as disciples of Jesus are based on confidence in a God we cannot see with our human eyes or hear with our human ears but we are convinced is real. Jesus stated very simply:
Have faith in God. (Mark 11:22)
Who is this God in whom we are to have faith? If we were to follow the Pharisees’ interpretation of God, we would not have much to go on. We would have to entrust ourselves to a God who is always on the lookout for violations of His commandments. We would be cowering under the weight of our guilt. We would be working very hard to earn His favour by nit-picking over every little rule and regulation. In spite of all that, we would still be more focused on our efforts to satisfy Him than on His mercy and grace towards us. We would have more faith in ourselves than in Him. But:
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. (Heb.11: 6)
The bottom line is “Who is the God in whom we must have faith?” If our confidence is not rooted in the one true God whom Jesus came to reveal, we have nothing because no other god exists. The Pharisees’ god and every other god are inventions of human imagination. We can see and know who the real God is when we gaze at Jesus because He is the perfect replica and representation of the Father.
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known. (John 1: 14; 8)
Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am?
I have revealed you to those you gave me out of the world. (John 17: 6a)
The Scriptures give us overwhelming evidence, both from the mouth of Jesus and from His witnesses, that He is a true and accurate representative of the Father.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Col. 1:15),
and the writer to the Hebrews echoed:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being . . . (Heb. 1: 3a)
This is the God in whom we must have faith, not some being of our own creation. Jesus modelled faith in God. He did not question His intentions or His instructions because He knew Him. He had a strong and unbreakable link with the Father because He had faith in who He is, and how reliable He is.
As Jesus’s disciples, we are to follow our rabbi, entrusting ourselves to the Father as unquestioningly as He did, relying on Him not just to do what we ask, but relying on Him, full stop, no matter what, because He is God and we are not.
Another parable illustrates the attitude of perseverance.
Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up. (Luke 18: 1)
What do you suppose He meant by “always pray” and “never give up”? Is God so reluctant to answer us that it takes a lot of praying to persuade Him to intervene for us? This story is about a worldly judge who gave in to a widow’s persistence because she would not give up. The story is not about how like the unjust judge God is. It’s about how unlike him He is. The judge finally gave in to the woman and did what she requested because she pestered him day and night and refused to take “no” for an answer. God intervenes speedily because we are His children. The answer to our question is found in Jesus’s final statement:
However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18: 8b)
If the judge finally gave in to get rid of the nagging widow because she persevered, surely God will be far more gracious to us than that because He is our Father and we trust Him!
Why does God want us to pray and to persevere in prayer? Faith! To build our faith! But why is our faith so important to God? Faith is the invisible link between us and God. It’s about relationship. Our faith in God is more precious to Him than gold.
These have come (‘all kinds of trials’) so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1: 7)
Trust is the basis of any relationship that works. When trust breaks down, the relationship ceases to have any meaning. God is invisible but real. However, for us humans, trust in God is built up over a long period of time and through many trials when we have no other option but to trust Him. Don’t you think that God would orchestrate or allow those trials to develop our faith if it is so precious to Him?
Abraham is an example of one who learned to trust God over many years as God tested him and taught him how to persevere. He waited for twenty-five years for God to give him the son He had promised. Many of us would have given in and given up, but not Abraham. His desire for a son was so strong and his confidence in God’s promise so secure that he refused to give up on God.
By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise. (Heb. 11: 11)
Perseverance is not stubbornness or presumption. It is committed and persistent trust based on the faithfulness of God. God’s promises are a declaration of intent, but they come into effect in His time and in His way. We have a part to play in the fulfilment of those promises – faith and patience.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Heb. 6: 12)
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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