Years ago I sensed the Lord say to me, “Steve, you have a habit of withdrawing your faith after ministry or prayer because of what you feel or see. I am going to help you overcome this because where you are going, you cannot take this tendency with you.” What God was teaching me is that we are called to stay in faith, not withdraw it based on circumstances or emotions. We are to develop a lifestyle that believes it is impossible for something positive and good not to happen when we pray, minister, or implement God’s wisdom in our lives.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8). In the past these verses brought discouragement to me because I focused more on my doubt than His promise that “it will be given to (me).” Now these verses fuel my faith because I know God will never ask me to do something that He has not empowered me to do.
At times I still find myself withdrawing my faith in areas of my life, but it is becoming less and less. Whether it’s a prayer prayed, a promise declared, a time of ministry, or a decision made, I have grown much in thinking about these things in faith. This growth in me has largely resulted from the following four revelations on why I should not withdraw my faith:
- Faith believes without seeing – “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). God wants us to believe we receive at the time of prayer what we have been praying for. Obviously, these requests need to be consistent with the heart of God, but we are told to believe we “have it” at the moment we pray. How long should we believe this when we don’t see it manifesting? Five minutes? Five days? Five years? Five decades? I believe even longer if needed. Please note: I believe staying in faith over the long-term will cause grace to come upon us to change anything needed to be changed regarding what we prayed about.
- Seeds take time to grow into a harvest – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows . . . Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:7-9). “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (I Corinthians 2:6). When farmers don’t see an immediate crop after planting seeds, they don’t withdraw their faith. In spiritual things, it usually takes time for seeds sown to grow into a harvest.
- It is a main way to overcome the accuser – “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down” (Revelation 12:10). The devil not only accuses us before God, but constantly accuses us in our thoughts when we emphasize behavior over identity. As we stay in faith concerning our identity in Christ (our righteousness, our authority, etc.), we “hurl down” the accusers lies that want to neutralize us.
- It is a main way to practice Philippians 4:6-8 – Ask God to open your eyes to the power in these verses: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:6-8). This is a road map to peace and spiritual confidence. The phrase “with thanksgiving” is the key to stay in faith. Once we move into thanksgiving in prayer, we move from begging into belief. Verse eight reveals to us that we can actually think on purpose, thus overcoming the tendency to withdraw our faith.
I release grace over you today to stay in faith. A great place to practice this is to intentionally thank God for past prayers prayed or for times when you have used your ministry gifts We can start with these smaller areas, and then move onto our bigger concerns and needs in life.
Finally, if you need encouragement that God will help you do this, consider these two verses:
- “Jesus (is) the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) – He says He will be the finisher in your beliefs journey.
- “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) – The father in this story got the revelation of the power of beliefs, and then asked Jesus to help him to believe right. We too can ask the Father to help us in the same way. We will stay in faith that it will happen.
For more on this topic listen to this week’s podcast below.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.