John 4:50, Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.
Notice that the man did not see the fruit of Jesus’ word and then believed, but he believed Jesus on the basis of who He is before he left. How many of us, I wonder, exercise such faith when we ask Jesus for our needs in prayer? Perhaps the man already knew Jesus would heal his child—that is, his faith allowed him to believe Jesus was capable of doing what he would ask. How many of us approach Jesus in the same faith? This is certainly an area I’m weak in.
Aside from confession, I don’t pray for myself much. But what I do pray for often is a godly wife, which that desire has been escaping me for years. I was engaged twice, both of whom left me for another man (the second one I recently found out after 6 years), and I face constant rejection whether it’s because of my pastoral calling, I’m “intellectually intimidating,” or just simply not somebody’s type. My experiential evidence leads me to believe I’ll live alone my entire life. Yet I still continue to pray, but if I’m being honest with myself, I’m no longer praying with the faith that God can make it happen. So, I’m writing this for myself as much as I am for you. So, how can you and I pray with faith for our heart’s desires?
This faith isn’t something we can work in ourselves. Faith doesn’t come from within us; it comes from the Holy Spirit. We always pray to the Father and the Son, but how often do we pray to the third person of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit? He is our Helper, after all. When we’re struggling with such faith, let us pray to the Holy Spirit to help us in our doubts and to give us the faith to believe in God’s ability to do as we ask, according to His will. Of course, believing God is capable doesn’t guarantee His will is going to match our own, but such faith does enable us to accept God’s will no matter the outcome. Besides, now may not be the time for our heart’s desires.
“We may not always perceive that those things for which we ask in faith are present, but they have assuredly been obtained, and they will appear in their proper time” (from Annotations on Matthew, Luther’s Works 67:60).