The following chapter is given here for those who are looking towards some definite step of faith themselves. We add it with the hope that it may give you some practical suggestions regarding appropriating faith.
“God is no respecter of persons.” Will you not venture out on the promises of God? Can you not, as Christians, venture out on His promises into new realms of faith and blessings? Can you not venture out and scale the heights to higher ground? Are you so fearful—so lacking in real courage that you cannot step out upon God’s promises and risk your all on His faithfulness? No matter if Peter did sink for a moment beneath the waves, he had at least the courage to “venture out.” Are we always going to stay in the same little circumscribed limits? If we will not venture out and put His Word to the test, we will never know what He means by the “great and mighty things” of which He speaks to Jeremiah 33:3 , “Call upon me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” His Word says He will lead you “into a large place”; He will “show you a new thing.”
But you say, “How can I have this overcoming faith? How can I appropriate these promises for myself? How can I prove them?” We give you, very briefly, in the following pages, some practical suggestions as to “How to get things from God.”
First: Begin with a Clean Heart
It is of course understood, in getting things from God, that the heart must be right. Any unconfessed sin in the life will hinder faith. Anything unyielded to God will come up before you and accuse you mightily in some time of testing. Do not let this discourage you, because God does not ask for perfection. He only asks that we put our wills over on His side; that with all our hearts we try the very best we know how. Here is where so many stumble, and say, “Ah, I am not good enough; others may be worthy, but I am not.” And yet in their hearts there is a deep desire to do right, and the great longing to please the Lord. This is all that He asks; a perfect yieldedness, an entire surrender; that everything be on the altar; then He will do the rest. Let us cry, as David of old, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts.”
Second: Prepare Thoroughly—Commit Promises
It is absolutely necessary when we are asking God for something, that we have the authority of His Word upon which to stand. We must get hold of His promises and not only commit them to memory, but get them deep down into our hearts—ingrained into our beings. We must find the authority in God’s Word, and then faith will come of itself. You can never have faith for anything if you are not sure God has given you authority to ask for it; so it would be impossible to stress too much the need of committing to memory some of the outstanding promises. Here are a few that have been standbys of many faith-warriors for years; I supply the texts and you may look them up for yourself: Mark 11:24; Mark 9:23; 1 John 5:14–15 and Jeremiah 33:3. You may not be able to commit a great many promises, but even one or two will so strengthen your faith in time of need that you will wonder how you ever got along without knowing them before.
Third: Be Definite
There must be definiteness in our transactions with God. He has been definite with us, giving us very definite promises, stating them in very definite terms—so simple that a child can understand them. You must be definite with Him. We are definite in our business dealings with others—especially in any matter of importance that involves a money transaction. How careful we are to have a perfect understanding. We say we are “making a deal” or “closing a deal” with a person, and there comes a time when we write our name on the dotted line and in a very definite, careful manner, we close the deal. Just so, there must be a definiteness in closing a deal with God. There must be a definite moment in which we, so to speak, write our name on the dotted line under His promises, take Him at His Word, and close the deal. At that moment it is done—we drive the stake down and forevermore count it a closed matter. Our whole attitude is changed — hope has changed to faith. Faith—the belief in things not seen. Oh, what a pity that we can take man’s word easily and be so definite in our transaction with each other, and yet be so indefinite in our transactions with God—so wishy-washy—as though prayer were some sort of form through which to go, but without any real meaning. Let us be definite with God!
Fourth: Expect from God
There is more failure in the prayer life than along any other line, for the simple reason that we start so many petitions and never wait for the answers—just keep sending them up and sending them up without any real expectation of getting the answers back, until the muscles of our souls become flabby because we do not exercise our powers of receptivity.
There are two different kinds of Christians—those who pray and really expect to see something happen, and those who just pray but do not expect anything to happen. Prayer is first a means unto an end; a connecting link between human needs and Divine resources; the cry of the child unto its’ Father, with the EXPECTATION that the great Father-heart loves to give to them even more than they love to receive.
There are some of the most exemplary Christians, in whose lives one could hardly find a flaw, yet they rarely get things from God, simply because they fail along this very line; they lack this expectancy; they do not know the least thing about this mighty principle of faith. There is love of God, and deep confidence in the Bible as being truly the Word of God, but so far as any actual expectancy is concerned there is none. How pitiful—how it must grieve the heart of the Infinite—for His child to pray on and on and on, but never display a genuine expectant attitude.
Fifth: Accept from God
“Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.” “When ye pray—believe.” It is simply amazing how many people, who, after having asked God to do the giving actually expect Him to do the taking, also. We want Him, without the least effort on our part, to come right down and lay it in our laps; and this He will do—but on His own conditions, and those conditions are: “believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” He has a right to set down His own conditions, and what less could He ask than that we honor Him by believing His Word? His Word has not said that without perfection it is impossible to please God, but it does say that without faith it is impossible to please Him. If there is in your heart today a desire to please God, just honor His Word by believing for something that is impossible for you to obtain of yourself. Just take a step of faith out on the impossible! “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” But that which waits to see before it believes, is not faith. It is not what we see, for the “just shall walk by faith”; it is not what we feel, it is what faith claims; it is not what we think about it—it is what God says about it that counts. Faith puts the thing in the past and counts it done; it is done simply because God says so; we have it now. “But,” you say, “I cannot see it; I cannot handle it, so I do not really know that I have received.” But we do know, because God said so, and His Word is enough. We believe, not because any of the senses testify to it, but because of God’s testimony. “Let every man be found a liar, but God be found true.” I know how deep-seated the natural desire to have some visible evidence that our petition is granted, but to have any other evidence than God’s Word, is not faith; the man or woman who walks by faith needs no other evidence than that.
Do you realize that there is a time when it is “wrong to pray?” When it is inconsistent to petition the Lord any longer? “And the Lord said unto Joshua, ‘Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?’“ This Scripture is self-explanatory: The man of the story had been pleading with God for the desire of his heart, and it seems as we read, that he keeps up this pleading long after God has heard him and sent the answer on the way; and so the Lord reproves him for tarrying longer, and indicates very definitely that it is time for him to rise and go about his business, because he had been heard and there is no need of any further praying so far as the Lord is concerned. There undoubtedly comes a time when further praying is unbelief. There is such a thing as praying oneself out of faith. Let us take Him at His Word and count the thing done; and it is done, because He said so.
Sixth: Stand Your Ground
Then, “having done all, stand.” Standing means to maintain our ground, not yielding or fleeing. Just so the one who is getting something from God takes a promise from His Word, stands upon it, and from that moment, fully reckons upon it, no matter what happens after he claims the promise, and though he may not be able to see a foot ahead of him, yet he sails by dead reckoning. He says “Back there I claimed that promise from the Lord, and I am still standing upon it, no matter if I sail in perfect darkness.” He does not look around at the waves, the fog, or the storm—the circumstances—he simply keeps his eyes on the promise of Scripture, “being fully persuaded that what He has promised, He is able to perform”; as someone has said, “For every look at your trouble, take a hundred looks at the promises of God.”
Seventh: Put Faith into Action
The man who gets things from God will act out his faith (James 2:17–26), “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” What is a dead faith? It is a faith that is not working. It is a faith that is not operative. Real faith is not a passive thing; It will act out what it believes; it is a practical thing—it does not expect God to do the thing that we alone can do. A believing person puts faith into action. When he has asked God for something, he proceeds as if he possesses. When he takes God at His Word on some promise, the word changes into works so far as he is concerned, and he proceeds exactly as if he already possessed the thing which he desired, (which by believing faith he really does) though the natural senses may deny every step of the way that which faith has claimed as true.
A splendid illustration of this thought is given in the Bible in the instance of the lepers who were told by Jesus to go show themselves to the priest for cleansing; the Scripture says, “As they went, they were healed”: that is, as they put their faith into action God met them. If we put forth the effort of a believing will, God honors that step and meets us. In the case of the man with the withered arm, Jesus said, “Stretch forth thine hand”; it was really impossible for the man to stretch forth his hand, but when Christ commanded, he made the effort and his hand was made perfectly whole.
The seat of faith is in the will, and I have found that God certainly expects us to put our faith into action. Some one has said, “When faith goes to market, it takes a basket along.” Like the old lady who was on the way to a prayer-meeting where they were going to pray for rain, for there was a drought and it was very hot and dry; as she carried with her a fan, she was put to shame for her little faith when she met on the way to this same meeting, a little girl of eight, wearing overshoes, raincoat, and carrying an umbrella! That simple, trusting child was putting her faith into action.
Eighth: Thank Him for the Gift
Thank Him now for the answer! Praise Him for His faithfulness. The parcel has not been delivered at your door, but you have closed the deal with Him over the royal telephone, and there is in your heart a very sweet trust and confidence in His promise while waiting for the doorbell to ring. This is one of the sweetest verses in God’s Word: “They that believe have entered into rest.” We began with prayer but we end with praise. “He hath never failed in one of all His Promises”; Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my Word shall not pass away”; “The promises of God are yea and amen to the glory of God.” Will you not reach out and touch the hem of His garment?