How to Build Faith to Pray: Stories We’ve Heard

 

build faith. stories we've heard

We want to focus on how we can build faith today. One thing I do to build up my trust in God is to remember and reflect on stories of what he has done.

For most of us, praying to God can be hard if we don’t have that trust part of faith. If we haven’t fully trusted that God will do what he says he will do. If we haven’t fully trusted that God will answer when we come to him.

It’s like we are on this journey of finding power in prayer. And on this journey, we continue to build up our faith, our belief that God can do anything. As we are walking along, we might at some point begin to believe that he loves people… all people. Then we might eventually believe that he loves and listens to us… that all people includes me. Some of us can come to believe that God can do miracles today – whether that means healing hearts or healing bodies.

I’ve come to understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, that every journey happens uniquely. Our faith is built in a different order and timing. I don’t want to sound too individualistic in this.  But I believe that sometimes God loves this. Because our individual walks with God are indeed unique. And I know that I know that I know that he loves his individual relationship with each person on this earth.

He walks beside us, journeying alongside us as he did with the disciples in the gospels. He is continually developing and growing and nurturing our faith in Him and in His faithfulness to always be with us.

But we can go for years sometimes without allowing God to nurture and develop our faith. This could be because of past hurts or challenges. You might have felt really hurt and abandoned by someone. You might have felt really hurt and abandoned by God. This would have damaged your trust in God.

You may have gotten caught up in the busy-ness of life. Or in the relationships that have taken the place of God in your life – other people that you talk to about your hurts and your wants.

Whatever part of your journey that you are on, let’s be intentional today. Let’s allow our faith journey to move forward.

So how can we, with God alongside us, build our faith… so that we can begin to see “mountains” move in and around us?

Remember the Stories

Start with this question: How can I know that prayer is powerful?

By answering this, you are developing your trust… because you know that God can do x and y.

There are many ways of answering this question, but let me suggest today that you 1) Remember other people’s stories, 2) Remember stories from the Bible, and 3) Remember stories from your own life. We’ll talk about the third one next time.

 

Remember other people’s stories

Write a list of stories in your journal. Stories you remember from other people. Stories where prayer was answered.

If that skeptic voice pops up in your head – evaluate it. Ask God that if it’s true, to give you faith to believe. Make a choice. Will you choose to believe that God can do such things.

Concerning anxiety and/or depression, I can think of several stories through the years where God has met with an individual crying out to him on a bad night. Sometimes through the Psalms. Sometimes through people. Sometimes through hope given in other parts of the Bible. For them, this was a miracle… because it’s hard to get through a bad night. There are a couple of stories I know where God has answered prayers for deliverance from mental illness, and though these are few, they give us hope.

There are so many stories that I can think of from missionaries. Where God has warned them in dreams or in prayer of danger that was coming. Or when he has given them vision of his will in prayer. You’ll often hear stories from short term missionaries who received the money that they needed to go on their trip…after they prayed and surrendered to God.

I found this website via googling “answered prayer stories”, and was encouraged by some of these stories. Have a quick google if no stories come to mind.

I would also recommend asking your friends for their stories. Build up your faith through the testimony of others. And help them build their faith by reminding them where God has been present.

 

Remember stories from the Bible

Another way to build your faith is in scripture. Because if we are a Christian, it is so important to build up trust in God’s word. This reinforces and makes faith solid and unshakable. When you believe the Bible is truth, you have an immeasurable amount of tools for your journey. And you can allow the Holy Spirit to speak in you through scripture.

So in the Bible, how can you know that prayer is powerful?

Write a list in your journal. 🙂 There’s hundreds of stories you could write down.

Like when God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. They trusted God completely, claimed him as powerful, and he was with them.

There are many times in the book of Daniel that Daniel comes to God in prayer, and God reveals to him other people’s dreams. Check out Daniel 2, as his friends pray for him:

16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven…

God answers our prayer with power… and listens to those who pray on our behalf. It’s a beautiful thing to pray for another person, and expect God to come through.

There’s the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

And God answered by sending fire down from heaven. And I love that this was for his glory – that people would know that he is God. This is important to remember in our prayers. That God is the one with the power.

What other stories can you think of from the Bible?

A Prayer for Us

Dear Author, thank you for the power of stories. Thank you for the testimony of others. In the power of your Holy Spirit, bring to our minds stories of when you have listened and answered the prayers of your people. Reveal to us these stories through the people around us. Reveal stories in your word of truth. Give us faith to believe when our minds say no. Where we think it’s not possible, speak to us that it is not only possible, but that it has been done before and can be done again. Strengthen us with faith. Develop us on this journey. May we be able to look back today and see what you have already done. May we look back in the years to come to see how you have surrounded us with stories of your power the whole way. Thank you for this. We claim this in your name, Jesus. Amen.

Loneliness: It’s All of Us

10 daysversuslonely ness

 My husband is from New Zealand, but I am from Texas. We got married at my grandparents’ house last Thanksgiving, and now we have been living in Auckland for a few months. I cannot work because we don’t have immigration consent as I am writing this post, so I have had little to do while my husband is in his last semester of nursing study.

Loneliness.

I feel like I say that word a lot lately. Yet, somehow, even the word doesn’t carry the weight of the emotions conjoined into those three simple syllables.

We all feel lonely. And that is part of why this site exists – so that we know that we are never really alone. Thanks for that.

Part of my coping with this new time of my life – starting off in a new country with new people and foods and ways of joking and teasing – is by writing. Writing this blog, for example.

But in the last few weeks, loneliness has integrated itself into worthlessness and a lack of purpose. I had purpose when I was teaching English literature to teenagers. I had purpose when I was helping youth at my church community back home. I had purpose when I was planning a wedding. I had purpose when it was only me and I could dream of travelling and wandering and going wherever I wanted – whenever I wanted.

I’m learning something new. Life changes and sometimes purpose changes with it.

So how do I cope with this?

How do I get back to a life of purpose in the middle of so much change?

Through life, I have learned that when negativity floods in – whether it’s self-doubt, being fired from an easy job, or just someone looking at you the wrong way – immediate action is required. If not dealt with and changed to a positive, the negative thought or feeling seems to compound itself and leads to other negative thoughts and feelings.

EUGENE (1)My theory in working through loneliness is, at the present, largely based on the same skills we learn in counseling to combat depression. Both loneliness and depression can be debilitating, and one can lead into the other if the dice lands a certain way on the table of brain chemistry.

As someone who believes in Jesus, I have the ever-present peace of knowing that my faith is giving me purpose. That is more helpful than anything. I daily thank my God for the purpose and plans that he has for all of his children. That is my number one.

And so, here, I write my list of what I do (or try to do) to refocus and balance:

  • Be in the light – both physically and spiritually.
    • The sun not only gives us Vitamin D, it boosts serotonin, increasing mood. On cloudy days, my husband whips out this handy “lightbox” and turns it on right in front of my face. It helps me.
    • The son of God is the light of the world. Without this source of light going into the deepest parts of my soul, I am empty. He fills voids created by loneliness. And I’m not even just saying that.
  • Draw. Or Colour.
    • Get an adult colouring book. Or a kid’s one. Create your own. Colours can be oddly therapeutic. So is colouring.
    • Sometimes, I draw myself how I want to be – happy, peaceful, thinking good thoughts.
  • Go to school. Any school. (Today, I’m sitting in a university library. I don’t attend here. 😉 )
    • This may not be useful for many people, but I freakin’ love to learn. So I sit and I learn whatever I want to learn.
    • Research your interests. I’m very interested in the subject and science of “loneliness” right now, as you can see. So I spent three months finding everything I could on the subject. I’ve also been studying pet therapy… because I want a dog. 🙂
  • Teach.
    • This is something I enjoy, partly because I learn so much myself through teaching.. So I’ve created a blog where I can do something like teaching while I’m unemployed!
  • Socialize. Find the “Other” Person.
    • Join a club, a church group, a gym. Be with other people. I joined a gym, and even though I don’t talk to anyone there, it’s nice just to be with people. The same goes for the library or a café!
    • Our landlord has an 18 year old deaf cat at our house. I pet it when my husband is studying or at his clinicals. It’s just an animal, but being with something else that is alive and breathing is comforting. If you have an animal, cuddle it. If not, hamsters are cheap in the States. 🙂
    • Be with your family, if you can. I can skype my parents. I can go to my in-laws’ house. I, personally, always “leave” feeling better.
    • Tell your best friend, your husband, your wife, your kid – whoever – that you want to spend time with them. Make a plan, set a day, and enjoy every moment. One day when I was at my loneliest, Mark stayed home with me and took me to the wharf. A week later, I was still looking back to that day, feeling the good feelings over and over. Count the blessings of those days as hope during the bad days.
  • Write.
    • Writing has always been my favourite thing to do, even though I’ve been shy and embarrassed to do it as much as I like. It’s therapeutic to write in a journal. It feels good to write a card to people I am thankful for.

What is your list? How do you deal with your lonely times? If you can’t think of anything, try to concentrate on what has always made you happy. Most of the things on my list fit into everything I wanted to be when I was a child: an author, an artist, and an adventurer. Look back at your childhood self. Where do you find joy? We all find joy in being with people on some level. How can that help you in your loneliness?

If you don’t have an answer, yet, then I hope and pray that by the end of this series, you will have one. Or two. Or many.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a series of, what I believe, will be useful articles on the problem of loneliness, solutions to help you through the loneliest times, and the hope that you can have within yourself to make it. Stay tuned for:

 

24 June       Loneliness: It’s All of Us

 

27 June       Loneliness: The Problem, the Paradoxical Virus, and a Cure

19 June       Loneliness: Finding the “Inner” Person

1 July          Loneliness: Finding the “Other” Person

 

4 July         Loneliness: Finding Meaning in What you Do

6 July         Loneliness: For the In-Between

8 July         Loneliness: Understanding Loneliness in All People

 

11 July        Loneliness: Helping Others, Helping Yourself

13 July       Loneliness: Finding the “Upper” Person

15 July       Final Thoughts on an Un-Final Topic

Loneliness is not something you alone feel. Everyone feels lonely. Many people feel chronically lonely. You are not alone in the fight to be with others and feel whole. It’s not just you. It’s all of us. Let’s take it head on – together.