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.

Press In: WHO is God?

Press in today. And we’ll start talking about the who/what/when/where/why of prayerWho do we pray to? 

If you are a follower of Jesus, then you know that everything you do is – or should – God-centric; therefore, the question, “Who do we pray to?” is very important. There’s the obvious answer: God. And this may seem done and dusted. Answered. But who is God?

Who is God banner

If you are not Christian, then you know that Christians pray to God. But you may not know why. The “why” centers on the “who”. Who God is – his character and his heart, his names and what he has done for humans – this is what our faith hinges upon. Because the Christian God is good, I am happy to give my life to him. I’m not afraid. And this gives me joy. This makes me want to pray – to talk with him.

I realize that you may have problems with some of these answers I give. When you think about God, you might not have a great picture. When people talk about God as a father, you may not like that because of your experience of fathers. When people say that God is good, you may not believe it… because your life has not been good, or because you have seen too many bad things on the news and think that a good God couldn’t let those things happen. I’m working on posts to help you out with those difficulties. Because they are important to acknowledge. They are important to address. And they are important to answer and heal.

For now, I would love to have you write down or draw who you view God to be right now. It’s a starting point.

Is he like Zeus or Poseidon, unpredictable and fallible, or he is calm and serene like Buddha? Is he like your father or mother? Is he like an old judge or a dancing genie?

Whatever you view him to be now, He invites you to look at the truth of who he is. And we find out who he is by stories in scripture, testimonies and stories of people we know, and by his presence in our own lives – spending time with him. In prayer.

When I was in the fourth grade, I have this distinct memory of walking outside from the school classroom, then out down the sidewalk toward the lunch cafeteria… and it suddenly hit me. Who is God? As a child, I was able to take initiative with the faith of a child (something I really want to hang on to), and seek out the character of God. I began making lists (I love visuals, can you tell?) and figuring out who he was for myself. I look back at this time, and stand in awe and wonder of how God drew me to himself through knowledge of who he is.

So who is God? I can only begin to scratch the surface of who he is. But, feel free to start your next list of who you know him to be, not what you imagine him to be this time. Share your favourites with us on our Facebook page.

Let’s start our blog list that first one I mentioned. God is good. We pray to a good and just God. When I pray, I find myself just thanking God that he is good. He is not like Zeus, sometimes good and sometimes just. He is always good and always just.

The one true God could be anything he wanted to be when you think about it. But he chooses to be good. I think that’s amazing.

So you can put “good” in front of any noun that God is. “Good, good Father”, like the song. Good protector, good comforter, good healer, good judge.

Here is a [short] list of who God is:

Love – 1 John 4:16, John 15:13, Jeremiah 31:3

Friend – John 15:14-15, James 2:23

Faithful – Exodus 34:6-7, Deuteronomy 7:9, 2 Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 10:23

Just – Exodus 34:7b, 2 Samuel 22:28, Psalm 140:12, Colossians 3:25

Righteous – Job 37:23, Psalm 48:10, Revelation 15:3

Mighty – Zephaniah 3:17, Nahum 1:3, Matthew 19:36

Truth – Isaiah 65:16, 1 John 5:20,

Comforter – Isaiah 51:12, Matthew 5:4, John 14:18, 2 Corinthians 1:3

Counselor – Isaiah 9:6, John 1:14

Compassionate/Merciful – Psalm 116:5, II Chronicles 30:9, Micah 7:18

Rescuer/Savior – Psalm 68:19-20, Psalm 81:4

Defender/Advocate – Deuteronomy 20:4, 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Emmanuel/God with us – Joshua 1:9, Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 1:23

Security/Unchanging – 2 Samuel 22:33, Numbers 23:19, Romans 8:38-39

Light – 2 Samuel 22:29, John 8:12, 1 John 1:5

Father – Malachi 2:10, Matthew 23:9, 1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 John 3:1

Spirit – John 14:16, 26

Helper – Psalm 118:7, Isaiah 41:10, Hebrews 13:6

HealerPsalm 147:2, Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 11:28-29

Good – Exodus 33:19, James 1:17

 

who is god

So who do we pray to?

When we pray, we pray to a God who is – and will always be – these many, many good names. When I am lonely, I pray to a friend. When I feel shame, I pray to a redeemer. When I am happy, I praise and adore my unending joy. And every day, I can come to a God who is creator of everything, king of kings, lord of lords, mighty in battle, strong to save.

Let’s seek and find who God is. We have got to begin to intimately know the God we are praying to in order to build faith and move mountains.

Seeker: Journey into Prayer

Journey into prayer

What comes to mind when you think of prayer? Do you pray? How do you pray? Do you believe there is power when you pray?

I think I have always believed in “the power of prayer” – a term I now understand to mean 1) that God gives power to his people, and 2) that this power is what welcomes our God to move on this earth… in subtle or in mighty ways.

I believe that if we accept and believe in the power God gives us in prayer, and if we pray in tune with the spirit of truth, then our prayers become reality. The kingdom of God comes to earth in this reality.

Most of you reading this particular post will probably know these lines of an old hymn: “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him/How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er”. In my own life, I know that I know that there is power in prayer because of how my God has proven himself to me… though He doesn’t have to.

So, again, do you believe there is power when you pray?

If so, do you exercise that power?

In the past few months since I’ve left the world of brain fog and chronic illness behind, God has been good to gently convict and inspire me to continue on with what He has called me to do…and who he has called me to be. He has done this through my working with our church youth group last year, through my marriage, through the wise men at Christmas, and through his beautiful Holy Spirit that speaks truth and life.

So when I was asking him what he wanted from me in this new year, it was clear.

He calls me (and you) to be a prayer warrior. SEEKERS, chasing after His kingdom with purpose and intention, claiming his power to work on earth.

seeker-hecallsyou

I want to spend this year actively seeking after God (and what he wants) in prayer.

What does this mean for me, and for us as an online community? We have several posts lined up around the idea of being a “seeker”. These will be spread out throughout the year to encourage and uplift you. They cover three areas on how to:

  1. Ask – BUILD FAITH. Because we do serve a God of power. But if we don’t claim that – if we don’t actively believe and seek God in prayer – then we may never experience the fullness of God’s power and plan. That would be sad, and here at “A Little Sanctuary”, we want to aim for joy and contentment. So we need to build faith to pray… faith to move mountains.

  2. Seek – USE TOOLS. Because God has given us soooo many. He has given us other people. He gives us our minds, our bodies, our spirits. He gives us the Bible and the Holy Spirit. We have creativity, imagination… and Pinterest. 🙂 Bullet Journaling is really helping me to pray, so I’d love to share some of that with you.

  3. Knock – PRESS IN. It’s ultimately about God, and about being one-on-one in an intimate relationship with him. This is ultimate contentment… and fullness of joy. So we will have posts aimed at helping you to press in, seek, and find that intimacy. We want our hearts to be like the heart of God. Because when our hearts align, our prayer life is not only powerful, it is life-changing, fulfilling, purpose-giving. Not to mention pleasing to our God.

In preparing for this year at the sanctuary, God has just been blowing me away by how vast and beautiful the world of prayer is. This is by no means a boring subject. This prayer thing is freedom. This is liberation.

This is powerful.

I’d love to do this year collectively with you… this idea of “seeking” after God. One thing about prayer is that God wants his people to do it both individually and in community. I believe “A Little Sanctuary” can be part of community, and I will be praying on what that could look like. I invite you to do the same.

I would love to see comments and messages from you all via our Fbook page. I’d love to see stories of how God has spoken to you in prayer – how you’ve experienced God’s power in prayer. And I’d love to post some of your stories to encourage and edify other readers that come here via Pinterest and search engines.

Head over to the Facebook page to get in on this journey.

Nga mihi,

Ashley Ruth

Seek: Lessons from Wise Men

 

Lessons from Wise Men

Mere Kirimete & happy holiday season! What’s your favourite part of the Christmas story? I’m a “shepherd” girl myself, but I’ve been thinking a little more about the wise men this year.

For one thing, it’s super cool that they came soooo far just because they saw a star. I love the active faith that they had to travel long and hard. They believed a prophecy, and sought long and hard after Jesus… just to spend a little while worshipping him and laying what they had at his manger.

Matthew 2:2 – “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

That kind of faith is admirable, and I believe, worth my attention this Christmas. As is the action they combined with their faith. They sought Jesus. They had such an active faith.

Mark and I were given a lot of gifts this Christmas – gifts we tore through lovely wrapping paper to find, gifts of being “present” with friends and family, and just being reminded of all the gifts that God has lavished on us this year. He has given me health, given Mark a job, put us in a house with cheap rent and good flatmates, provided for us over and over again. We were able to go back to America for a month. I travelled to Malaysia and to Fiji. We have been overwhelmed with God’s goodness toward us this past year.

But, this week, we were given an enormous gift for Christmas that we weren’t expecting (a car) and have been in awe ever since. There’s a reason there is a phrase called “shock and awe”. We’ve been shocked by generosity, and in awe of God’s grace and goodness toward us through other people. Part of the enormity of this gift is the effect it has had on our faith.

We went home on Christmas Eve with this gift, and God took me to Matthew 7:7-11: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened… If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

I love the reminders God gives us (big and small) that when we actively seek after him, we find him and we find his blessings. And I don’t mean that that we are meant to be materialistic about it. But, I know through experience that God loves to provide for his children.

I just mean that when we seek after Jesus – and after his heart – then we find him. Finding him is the beautiful part. It is beautiful to seek and find him while reading his Word. It is beautiful to seek and find him while being in his presence, worshipping him and standing in awe of who he is. It is beautiful to ask and receive his “good things” – his love, his grace, his gifts.

And, it is beautiful to seek him… and to lay what we have at his feet.

So this Christmas season, I want to remind and encourage myself (as well as you, wonderful readers) that God calls us to 1) Seek him and find him – as a baby in a manger, a man who died for us, and as the One True King, and 2) Ask and receive – by spending time worshipping him – in prayer, adoration, and gratitude – by laying what we have at his manger, his feet, and his cross. Receive the love that he has for you, and the mercy that he wants to lavish on you.

Here’s to seeking the king.

Much love,

Ashley Ruth