Sinclair Ferguson on praying the prayer of faith:
This, then, is the prayer of faith: to ask God to accomplish what He has promised in His Word. That promise is the only ground for our confidence in asking. Such confidence is not “worked up” from within our emotional life; rather, it is given and supported by what God has said in Scripture.
This, then, is the prayer of faith: to ask God to accomplish what He has promised in His Word
Truly “righteous” men and women of faith know the value of their heavenly Father’s promises. They go to Him, as children do to a loving human father. They know that if they can say to an earthly father, “But, father, you promised . . . ,” they can both persist in asking and be confident that he will keep his word. How much more our heavenly Father, who has given His Son for our salvation! We have no other grounds of confidence that He hears our prayers. We need none.
Such appeal to God’s promises constitutes what John Calvin, following Tertullian, calls “legitimate prayer.”
Some Christians find this disappointing. It seems to remove the mystique from the prayer of faith. Are we not tying down our faith to ask only for what God already has promised? But such disappointment reveals a spiritual malaise: would we rather devise our own spirituality (preferably spectacular) than God’s (frequently modest)?
The struggles we sometimes experience in prayer, then, are often part of the process by which God gradually brings us to ask for only what He has promised to give. The struggle is not our wrestling to bring Him to give us what we desire, but our wrestling with His Word until we are illuminated and subdued by it, saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” Then, as Calvin again says, we learn “not to ask for more than God allows.”
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