Dave told a personal story of living in Southern California and wishing one day that the heat would be replaced with a sudden snow flurry. Having been exposed to the hyper-faith movement he got down on his knees and attempted to “pray in faith.” He ratcheted up his own belief by praying, “I believe it will snow…yes, I believe…I believe, I believe, I believe!” At some point he sprang to his feet, ran to the window, and threw open the drapes to reveal the product of his faith.
Dave then shouted to us in the audience: “Thank God it wasn’t snowing!” He went on to point out that having faith in faith is not faith. We must have faith in God alone. Just think for a moment how crazy our world would be if everyone simply controlled the Master of the universe with their own amped up faith power? Can you imagine the products of our selfishness or the conflicts of interest by everyone who “prayed in faith”?
Faith has always presented Christians with a dilemma. On one hand many simply resign themselves to God’s supposed will and never pray in faith. They feel they are really godly to believe that God will simply do what needs to be done on their behalf. Unfortunately this often translates into a lack of faith and hence sin. They have not because they never ask. On the other hand there are those who believe that their faith will always be rewarded. If they have enough faith, that is, having “faith in faith,” they will get whatever they ask for.
Both sides have a point. Both sides have scriptures to back up their perspective. And both tend to be reacting toward the other. The problem is when one does not read both scriptures together or in context. We tend to either take one position or the other instead of living in tension between the two (see a blog post I did a few months back on the Either/Or Dilemma in Church World).
When it comes to faith we ought not to fall into one ditch or the other. Throughout the Gospel narratives we see Jesus getting more excited about random examples of faith than anything else. We ought to be people of faith. We ought to pray for healing. We ought to “expect great things from God and attempt great things for Him” (William Carey). But we also ought not to presume on God. We should not name it and claim it under the guise of having faith. We need to remember that as children of a Kingdom we are under the control of a King. Our faith is submitted to God’s perfect will. While we can certainly influence the hand of God we are not ultimately sovereign. God has the final say.