I well remember a time in my own life when I had prayed, ceaselessly it seemed, and in fact had done almost everything else that I knew to do, and yet the heavens seemed blank, the Lord seemed deaf; there was no answer to my prayer. I had come to the end of myself and could do nothing more. But why did not God answer? I took my Bible and turning the pages I prayed earnestly, when my eyes fell on these very words, “Having done all, stand” (Ephesians 6:13). Immediately I saw the truth. I had been asking and asking of the Lord but there had been no receiving on my part, and I said to myself, “Why, here I have been virtually blaming the Lord for not answering my prayer when I have not been doing my part at all, though I felt I had done everything I could think of. I will do what this verse of scripture says, that is, “Having done all, to stand.” Immediately upon this determination the following words formed themselves in my mind. Though I had never thought of them before, they seemed to come from out my very heart, sentence after sentence until each verse took shape:
I take the stand, I count it done,
God answers through His precious Son.
It is His Word, it cannot fail,
Though all the powers of Hell assail.
So come what may, the promise mine.
I’ll hold it to the end of time.
I take the stand, I count it done,
God answers through His precious Son.
He’s never failed, oh, praise His Name;
For Jesus Christ is just the same.
So live or die, or sink or swim,
Through every test I’ll trust in Him.
I believed that the Lord had heard me, that His Word could not fail and that what I was asking was absolutely within His will. So I began to praise and thank Him that the answer was on the way. “And having done all” I stood my ground with real expectancy of seeing soon the complete realization. Within six hours the prayer was definitely answered, but I could not praise Him any more than I had when I took the “stand of faith” upon His Word, for so deep had been my assurance and so keen my expectation that it was already mine by faith—”the evidence of things not seen.” 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. God says so, and that’s enough. The man or woman who walks by faith needs no other evidence than that. We shall see because we have believed, not believe because we have seen. David says in Psalm 27:13, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” You will note that he had not yet seen the answer, but “he believed to see.”
It is during this period when we are “believing to see,” (after we have taken the stand of faith, yet we have not seen the full realization) that there comes the test period. You remember that Daniel went through this trying time and how the Lord spoke these words unto him: “From the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard”; yet God’s Word teaches that there was a delay of three weeks before Daniel really received the answer, though the scripture says he was heard from the very first day. What sweet comfort there is in this story for we can say to our own hearts right now, “From the first day that you prayed He heard you.”
The answer’s coming,
The answer’s coming,
It’s almost here.
Keep on believing
Just trust and obey,
The answer’s coming,
It’s on the way.
I would like to add one more verse of scripture at this point. This is one of the sweetest faith verses in God’s Word; “They that believe have entered into rest.”
It would really be amusing at times if it were not so serious how very difficult it is for people to grasp this simple principle of faith that can secure them so many blessings and definite answers to prayer. Difficult perhaps, because so simple.
Countless times I have prayed with people claiming some precious promise from His Word and feeling that everything was right, and within His will, and that we might really praise Him for the answer; but upon arising from my knees, I would find to my amazement that the one I had been praying with was not believing at all, but simply hoping that the Lord had somehow heard. Then over and over again I’ve said, “Why your part is to believe that you receive; only believe, Sister, only believe.” And they would repeat the words after me, but I knew from the expression of their face that they were not believing for that moment, but hoping in an indefinite sort of way for some future evidence that God had heard that prayer. And sometimes months and even years afterwards they have come excited as a child, faces all aglow, jubilant in spirit, as if they had just made a brand new discovery, of which no one had ever told them a thing. “Why, Sister, the Lord has just revealed to me the most wonderful thing—I am just to believe that I have received, just as Mark 11:24 says, ‘when you pray, believe that you receive and you shall have.’ Oh, it’s so wonderful to find that all I have to do is just believe.” Somewhat wearily one has to answer, “That is just what I have been trying to tell you for two years”; and I have had them look back at me rather surprised and say: “Oh, is that what you were trying to explain to me?”
So after all God’s spirit must enlighten the heart to understand this great principle of faith. Ask him and He will “Do exceedingly abundantly, above all you ask or think.”
The stand of faith is described in Ephesians 6:13, which says, “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand,” and then it describes very fully, just what we shall do when we want something from the Lord, in other words, “how to get things from God.”
Let us take up this armour piece by piece and put it on ready to go out and face the enemy, who of course will fight us every inch of the way in his effort to keep us from getting things from God. He is an enemy so strong that no natural strength can combat his onslaughts. Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
But with this armour that the Lord gives us, we are perfectly equipped to stand against fiercest attacks.
First we will note He says: “Take unto you the whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:13). We do not have to make this armour; God has done that. We have only to take it. The scripture says for us to take it for our use “in the evil day”; that is, the day of Satan’s special assaults, which may come at any moment, the war being perpetual. Then “having done all, stand.” Standing means to maintain our ground, not yielding nor fleeing. (We have already explained this in detail.)
“Having your loins girt about with truth.” that is with sincerity. Truth is the band that girds up and keeps together the flowing robes, so that the Christian soldier may not be encumbered for action. Sincerity is absolutely necessary in the stand of faith, for we are dealing personally with the Lord Himself and any shams or subterfuges will be checked by the Spirit of God immediately.
“And having on the breastplate of righteousness.” 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 will over on His side, that with all our hearts we are trying the very best we know how. Here is where so many stumble and say, “Oh, I am not good enough. Others may be worthy, but I am not.” And yet in their hearts, there is the 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 should be on the altar, and He will do the rest.
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” This refers to the military shoes used by soldiers of that day and is significant of preparedness, readiness for the march. The Christian soldier should be ready at any minute to do and suffer all that God wills.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Now God’s Word says, “Faith is evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. Faith is that attitude of heart that calls the things that are not as though they are, as in Romans 4:17 the Word says, “God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” If we are asking God to let us see before we believe, this is not faith, but unbelief.
You say this is a strange teaching, but we know there’s not a business in the world that’s not based on this very principle of faith. But the natural man’s attitude towards God is such that while he will take man’s word, he refuses to believe God’s in the same way. “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual”, “the natural man is at enmity towards God.”
Why is it that we thank a man who makes us a promise, just as soon as he makes it, before there is the slightest evidence that he will keep it? But we are not willing to thank God on His promise long before we see it. This has been called the reckonings of faith. This is dead reckoning on the Word of God. One great Bible teacher wonderfully describes this in the illustration of the mariner, who gets his bearings when the sun is shining and all is well; then, when the storm in the night comes and he can no longer sail by sight, nor does he have the opportunity of getting his bearings again, he sails by what is called dead reckoning; utterly dependent upon the “reckonings” he secured when the sun shone.
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.” Then according to Romans 4:20 we will be “fully persuaded that what He has promised, He is able to perform.” Then we do not look around at the waves, the fog, or the storm—the circumstances—we keep our eyes simply on that promise of scripture, as someone has rightfully said, “For every look at your trouble, take a hundred looks at the promise of God.” This will look foolish sometimes to you and to others, but you can afford to look foolish to uphold God’s Word, for you only honor God when you believe His Word against all feelings, circumstances, and conditions.
Faith is not some great thing, not some glorious feeling, some wonderful sensation, as many think, but simply taking God at his word. Faith says amen to everything God says. Faith is utter dependence upon the veracity of another. You tell a man you have no faith in him and you cannot do business with him. Just so God’s Word says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hard times were caused by the loss of confidence on the part of men, and so there are “hard times” in the life of faith, when a man or woman loses the least confidence in the Word of God. In Hebrews 11:1 the Scripture says, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Just as your physical hand reaches out and takes hold of something, so faith is the spiritual hand that reaches out and takes hold of promises of God and appropriates them.
Now God has given us five senses: feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling. When we taste something that is sweet we have the evidence that it is so, because our taste has given us this evidence. No matter what any one else says we know it’s sweet, because we have evidence. This same application can be worked out with the other senses.
Now in spiritual life God gives us faith to witness to us of spiritual things, just as our five senses bring us the evidence of temporal things. We accept what our five senses tell us. Why do we not accept faith as the evidence, for it will bring to pass, and absolutely make real to us, all that we take by faith. Matthew 8:13: “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” Just as our taste is the evidence that the thing we partook was sweet, so our faith is the evidence that we have the thing we have asked. Faith is not an uncertain sort of thing, but is a principle which operates in the spiritual world as surely as the unseen principle of force does in the material world.
In the social world, that is the human sphere, faith is a principle that binds families together and cements friendships. It is the very foundation stone of commercial confidence and business transactions between men. Why is it thought strange then that this same principle should be applied in the spiritual kingdom? For just as an unseen force of attraction holds the material world together, and an unseen principle holds the social and financial world together, just so an unseen law of faith is the underlying force which holds the spiritual world together. It is the mightiest force in the spiritual world, the active creative force, which produces effects and brings things to pass. Just because faith in God’s promises is not in the natural realm, it is none the less a real active force in the universe.
Faith is practical. The law of faith is just as real as any other of God’s laws. And so God says, “The just shall walk by faith”; “without faith it is impossible to please God”; “this is the victory that overcomes the world, even your faith.” And then He gives a very simple clear definition of faith, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” But let us now continue putting the rest of our armour on.
“And take the helmet of salvation.” The head of the soldier was among the principal parts to be defended, as on it the deadliest strokes might fall, and it is the head that commands the whole body. The head is the seat of the mind, which when it has laid hold of the sure gospel hope of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine, nor give way to Satan’s temptations to despair. The helmet is subjoined to the shield of faith, as being its inseparable accompaniment.
“And the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.” 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, 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. God’s Words says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing, by the Word of God.” you can never have faith for anything if you are not sure God has given you authority to ask for it. If you really believe the scripture means, “Whatsoever things you desire,” then you will have faith for “whatsoever things.”
It would be impossible to stress too much the committing to memory of some of the outstanding promises. Here are a few that have been standbys of many faith warriors for years: Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them”; Mark 9:23, “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth”; 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us”; 1 John.5:15, “and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of Him”; Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knoweth not.”
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.