Any meaningful and spiritual prayer to God must have a biblical basis of faith generated by God’s word and prompted by God’s Spirit. You cannot simply believe anything and pray to God without real faith, and wishfully or casually expect answers from the Lord when you are not in line with God’s will and God’s word.
A) Sizes of faith
I wish to begin by pointing out an important fact —- it is really not the size of your faith that God is primarily looking for. God is mainly concerned about where you place your faith, and in whom you ultimately put your faith in, no matter the size. He also looks at the intensity of the burden in your heart, which is fueling your faith.
There are even men and women of God who began their ministry with gigantic faith, who later on began to put their big faith in the success of their ministries, personal efforts, great achievements, academic laurels, their popularity, and their power, and thereby lost God’s approval and his favor upon them. These spiritual leaders still get some results from their labors, continue to appear big in the limelight, but a closer look will tell you that they have lost their cutting edge as God’s battle axe, and also lost their original glory that stemmed from sincere, pure, humble, simple, and obedient faith.
I wish to explain how I understand this concept of faith sizes, based upon what I have gathered from the scriptures, and recognized in real life. I have to emphasize that the categories I have listed here are my own inventions, which I hope will ultimately become improved, accepted, and utilized by the Christian community:
1) Zero faith, or no faith —- This is when the person does not believe at all. Fear replaces all the space that faith should occupy in the person’s mind and heart. This what Jesus referred to in Mark 4: 40.
2) Little faith —- this is faith that is too insignificant to reach out to God, refuses to trust God for a particular situation, or is insufficient for a particular task or need. This is the size that Jesus referred to in Mathew 6: 30 when he was exhorting his disciples. It is also the same size of faith that Jesus referred to when he commented on Peter’s inability to continue walking on the water and began to sink (Mathew 14: 31). Little faith is very prone to doubt, as Jesus pointed out to Peter.
3) Small-size sincere faith —- This is faith that is small in size, but has been totally placed in God’s ability, character, integrity, love, mercy, power, grace, and faithfulness. God honors such faith for specific needs and tasks, but seeks to enable the possessor to develop his or her small faith into a greater one for bigger assignments and greater glory. This is the size of faith mentioned in Luke 17: 6.
You realize that a mustard seed (very small seed) was used as an illustration. A seed has life in itself, and can be sown, grown, and multiplied. God wants to tell us that he is interested in a living faith that can germinate and grow to give more life, more growth, and abundant fruit. True faith that is sincere and godly, is the kind of faith that can spread its influence and be perpetuated, growing and producing more fruits and seeds year after year, and affecting many generations.
4) Failing faith —- this is faith that is waning or gradually reducing in size or intensity. This usually happens when we start believing with enthusiasm, and then suddenly meet trials or problems that we did not anticipate. This is the situation that Jesus cautioned Peter about in Luke 22: 32.
Failed faith —- If the desire and rate of enthusiasm continue to decline, then we end up having a failed faith that won’t want to believe anymore. That is when we begin to suggest a break of the relationship, seek for divorce in the marriage, pack your belongings to leave that home because you can’t get along with someone, stop calling or writing to the person anymore, refuse to treat the disease or pray for healing anymore, write a letter of resignation from the position, make plans to leave the church or school, and abandon the project.
5) Right-size faith, or good-size faith —- this is faith that is of the most appropriate dimension for a particular task or need. You may also call it best faith. It is faith of the appropriate size, developed within a person after the one has heard the gospel or listened to God’s word and has allowed it to sink into his or her mind and heart. The person then grows a deep inner faith, which totally believes that God has both the ability and willingness to meet a particular need. This is not casual faith that simply believes that God can do it, but a deeper faith that goes further to believe that God will do it.
An example is cited in Acts 14: 9 for the crippled man who heard Paul preaching and developed a faith for healing. Paul aligned his faith with the faith of the man and asked him to stand up, which he did by the faith he had developed, and therefore got healed.
6) Weak faith —- this is usually the faith of a new believer who is learning to develop his or her basic faith in the Lord, or an older Christian who has toyed with his or her faith over the years without growth and maturity, and is still nursing a baby-like faith for daily living. A previously stronger believer can also develop weak faith with constant doubt and distrust due to tough battles and unexplainable hard circumstances. We are told that Abraham did not grow weak in his faith as he waited for years to have a baby with his aged wife Sarah (Romans 4: 19, 20).
A typical reference of weak faith is made in Romans 14:1 for a weaker (less mature) brother or sister. We are strongly advised to be tender with the faith of such people. We are to be very careful not to damage their faith with our bad examples (compromises), which they can easily copy and fall away from the Lord, or force our stronger faith on them to discourage them from trying to exercise any more faith.
7) Great faith —- this is simple faith that is focused on God’s word, without looking out for any accompaniments, and is faith stretched to reach the Lord for a great need, even under the worst circumstance. Great faith believes God with full confidence to produce complete work through prayer and God’s word alone, without any unnecessary additional spiritual steps. Great faith usually believes God for the best results with total reliance on God’s power and God’s promise when all factors seem to go against you. An example is what Jesus congratulated the centurion for (Mathew 8: 10). The centurion simply believed Jesus to pronounce healing on his servant from a long distance, without Jesus making any trip to lay hands and pray for the person.
8) Strong faith —- this is the best, unwavering, uncompromising, bible –rooted, God-generated, up-to-standard, spiritual, faith that all of us are expected to have and express for all situations at all times. I see strong faith as a lifestyle of faith, rather than a one huge or gigantic exercise of faith to obtain spectacular results. Great faith must be exercised for all circumstances until it grows into a lifestyle of strong faith that continues to grow stronger. Abraham is used as a typical example of someone who had strong faith (Romans 4: 20).
Abraham built his initial faith to the level of strong faith, and even stronger faith, through constant thanksgiving, praise, and glory to God for what he was absolutely convinced that God was going to do. He firmly believed that God would by all means fulfill his promise of giving him and his wife Sarah a child.
9) Measure of faith —- this is a certain amount of faith that the Lord generates inside a child of God with the cooperation of that particular believer, for specific gifts and talents that the Lord has strategically placed in the person’s life, because God has chosen the person to use him or her for the expansion of the Kingdom of God.
This might initially sound a little confusing to some of us, if we do not take time to understand the context in which God uses the term “measure”. A typical reference is made to this fact that “God has given to each of us a measure of faith” (Romans 12: 3). It does not mean that you sit down doing nothing about the development of your personal faith, because God will measure a certain amount of faith and generously dish it out to you for you to use to get things from him.
This is not faith that God expects you to simple derive from his promises and then begin to operate spiritual gifts on your own. That is what happens when people begin to imitate gifts like tongues, word of knowledge, prophecy, and vision, and then force titles upon themselves as prophets, apostles, pastors, evangelists, healers, prosperity prayer warriors, and seers into the future. God does not measure and give you your personal faith and trust in him; he expects you to acquire that through faith in his promises and obedience to his word. .
Even in the process of using the measure of faith for the exercise of spiritual gifts, God still demands and expects the gifted individual to study his or her bible, meditate daily on God’s word, and become very prayerful, in order to sharpen the gift and use the measure of faith more effectively, and be able to manage his or her gifts with obedient faith.
B) Types of Faith
We need to understand that faith is needed for every area of our lives, and must be expressed for all situations that we expect God to work for us. There are different types of faith for various needs and different situations
I have also come up with my understanding of the types of faith as I see in the scriptures, and have observed in daily life. Again I encourage you to think through them with me, and come up with even better refinement of the types of faith we can categorize.
1) There is one type of faith that I wish to call “common faith”, which is faith that we consciously or unconsciously express for the common things of daily life. For example the faith to drink my water or eat my food and trust that it is going to nourish my body without containing anything poisonous. Or the faith to sleep each night and wake up each morning, take my pain medication for my headache and vitamins as supplements for good health, go to work each day expecting to come back home after work, closing my eyes to pray when I wake up in the morning and believing that God is listening to me, and the faith I use to operate machines and instruments.
2) There is a type of faith that I wish to refer to as “special faith” that we purposely muster courage and express for specific people, projects, events, conditions, and needs. Any common faith can become a special faith if the conditions are special or if they demand special attention. The special faith I need to exercise for my professional exam, or entrance exam for admission to an institution, or final exam for my certificate, is not the same as the common faith I exercise for weekly quizzes and regular class tests.
If I drive to work with a common faith for my safety each day, it can suddenly demand special faith if I have to drive through a storm back and forth. If I sleep with a common faith each night as a routine, it can call for a special faith one night when I am struck with a threatening illness, and must believe that I could sleep well and also wake up feeling better the next morning.
3) What I will call “exclusive faith” is a type of special faith that is exercised for humanly impossible needs that crop up, and during impossible situations or circumstances. For example when medical doctors have declared a sick person’s ailing condition as hopeless, and pronounced imminent death; when a machine or engine suddenly breaks down beyond repair in the middle of an important activity or journey; and when a baby is born with an obvious deformity. Such circumstances demand the stretching of your faith to the highest degree for God’s supernatural intervention.
4) I wish to coin the term “nominal faith” for any type of faith expressed naturally by any human being who does not have a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, but wants to believe God to work for him or her by faith. Such people may only be religious by being mere church attendants who have never really been born again, or have no religion at all. People who attend church services only at Christmas, New Year, Easter, and for weddings and funerals, will fall into this category as well.
As I have explained in some part of this book, what such people express most of the time is more of optimism or a wish, rather than real faith that has a biblical basis. They may call it faith as if it is real faith in the true power of God, but because they do not know God’s word, their faith would only be the normal seed of faith placed in each human being by God for normal activities, and would not be true, spiritual faith.
We can therefore have subcategories of:
a) Nominal common faith.
b) Nominal special faith.
c) Nominal exclusive faith.
I know that some of you cannot wait to ask me the question: “How can such kinds faith work for the people who express them, since they are not really in tune with God for him to answer their prayers?” Yes, you are right. It is even worse when the person is living in open sin, and practices wickedness. We know that most of the time such people simply express a belief in their minds that things are going to turn out well, and sometimes it happens so for them.
Common faith has its roots in the fundamental seed of faith that God placed in us at creation, and therefore it is already a gift given to all mankind. Even armed robbers and atheists plant their crops, have a strong believe for their plants to flourish, and obtain a good harvest in the end. Christians experience the same too, but the difference is that the child of God can pray to God the Father for a bountiful harvest and other blessings of God that the unbeliever does not have the right to ask from God as his child or receive from God, or might not even know how to ask God for them.
In the majority of cases for special faith and exclusive faith, non-Christians ask to be prayed for by people they believe are spiritual enough to reach God for them, or they just cry to God in a phrase or sentence for help and believe that God would hear them. Others simply sit and worry about the problem, and wish or believe that something different or spectacular would happen by chance.
In all cases, God might do something good for them out of his love and mercy, intending to use such good things for them to realize God’s love for them and turn to him in repentance for salvation.
5) I have coined the term “pseudo-spiritual faith” for any type of faith that is based on reliance on a spirit other than the Spirit of Jesus (the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of God). Such faith could get results that are similar to the results of genuine faith in Christ, since Satan imitates the good things of God. But the difference is that if you obtain anything from another spirit, the blessing of God does not accompany it, and the curse behind it will follow you as well as your descendants, and will adversely affect your generation who will inherit you. When you die there will be no entrance from God for you to enter heaven. You will have to go to the evil spirit you followed and trusted in hell.
This type of faith applies to all cults or occult practices, variations of witchcraft, magic, juju, voodoo, lodge, fetish, idol worship, and other forms of spirit invocation. There are all kinds of clubs of men and women, and special groups that deceptively cover up their demonic activities in the name of wellness, fitness, exercise, health, mind development, projection of man’s inner powers, future predictions, financial prosperity, success in life, protection from enemies, and acquisition of special powers. Many of these are characterized by sex perversions and outrageous immorality, indecent and ungodly sexual acts between the same sexes, disrespect for and dishonoring of marriage and family life, lies, cheating, greed, rigid regulations, blood sacrifices, charms, and human worship. Other people are simply seeking to know God but are deceived and innocently trapped in the wrong places.
My book entitled: “Spiritual Warfare And Family Life” by Asempa Publishers in Accra, Ghana, will give you more details about demonic activities in homes, families, churches, and in our communities.
8) The final category is what I term as “godly faith”. I also call it “biblical faith”, or “spiritual faith”. This is the true, genuine, required faith of God that is based on God’s word. It is faith that you exercise and develop by first receiving Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, and then putting your total trust in his power and his word, for your daily living. It is an investment of your natural common faith in God for a personal relationship with him. You take the original faith seed God placed in you from creation which you use for your normal daily activities, and plant that seed in Christ, and then nourish it with daily meditation on his word, obedience to God’s will, complete reliance on God’s grace, and prayer to the Lord for power to live to his glory.
What Should Be The Primary Object Of Your Faith And Prayers?
Faith (along with your prayers) must have an object (whom you believe), and must also have content (what you believe). The object of our faith should be the Lord Jesus Christ who is the only mediator between us and God for the provision of all that we need in this world and in the world to come.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16: 31).
When you exercise faith for anything from God, it is not actually the thing or the answer we are expecting that should be our focus. As the scripture has stated, our focus must be on Jesus (our Saviour), who is Lord (absolute Master of our lives), and the Christ (Anointed One) who has all the knowledge and power to respond to our faith and provide the answer to our need.
The faith of all mankind naturally focuses on what I have recognized as areas that constitute the three most important needs of life. These three areas have been demarcated and defined in accordance with our normal human desires, plus our mental, cultural, social, and spiritual inclinations.
I summarize these fundamental human desires and needs, and I call them “The Four S’s. I recognize that these four factors form the basis of all that we tend to live for in our lifetime. What all of us crave for and expect in every phase of our short life here on earth can be summarized in these four key words S:
Each of us wants to become successful in everything we say and do, and desire to see prosperity characterizing every project that we undertake or everything we toil for. We want successful health, successful marriage, successful parenting, successful in-law relations, successful family life, successful education, successful provision, successful accommodation, successful education, successful spiritual life, successful church, successful ministry, successful organization, successful career, successful investment, successful business, successful production, successful finances, successful position, successful relationships, successful city, successful nation, successful economy, etc.
We also wish to ensure that our success becomes significant, and is recognized by people as something of importance. Each one of us wants his or her plans, efforts, success, achievements, prosperity, property, and position to become prominent in our society.
We also want to acquire real satisfaction, and we therefore make every effort to obtain successful results that really satisfy us, and make us happy. We strive to enjoy our success to the fullest measure.
But that does not end there.
Finally we become deeply concerned about the security of the particular success and its respective significance and the way it satisfies us. We strongly wish to maintain and get more of the success and its eminence in society. We desire to have all of our efforts, success, significance, and legacies maintained, improved, guarded, and protected.
It is a fact that all humans are fundamentally a needy people. To expand what I have just listed above, all of us primarily need good food, water, clothing, shelter, and health. We also need good education, careers, and jobs that will provide for us the development of ourselves and the basic necessities of life. When our basic needs are met, we desire to acquire some inheritance, legacy, or treasure with our efforts, talents, and gifts for the future. Then we desire and look for people who will team up with us or help us to obtain our needs and achieve success, prosperity, peace, and happiness. Marriage, family, and friends therefore come into the picture. We also seek for positions that we can occupy and have some influence or recognition for the achievement of our goals (if we really have any), feel very content, and gain or maintain more of what we desire. My analysis is right, isn’t it?
Do you realize that relationship with God and relationship with people are among the last items on the list that most of us consider as fundamental or basic necessities of life? Even when we see marriage and family as important needs, they are usually considered in terms of what we can obtain for ourselves and simply enjoy, and not what we need to survive and obtain all of the other things we desperately crave for.
Prayerfully Focus On Building Relationships With Your Faith
In my opinion, your faith and prayers must be primarily targeted towards the building of relationships. This should begin with the building and establishment of a relationship with God. Then our relationship with people must be the immediate need and concern. We must use all of our faith to accept God’s plan of salvation and establishment of a relationship with him, and not try to develop our own way of trying to relate to god and making use of him for our needs to be met. God’s plan is for us to accept the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, ask him to wash our sins in his shed blood, ask his spirit (the Holy Spirit) to come into our hearts and souls, and make us true children of God.
We then follow this up with daily reading and meditation on God’s word (the bible), live in obedience to God’s word, engage in fervent prayers that are based on faith generated by God’s word, become responsible members of a good church, worship God in spirit and in truth, and serve him in sincerity. This will enable us to develop good and loving relationship with people as we yield fully to God and allow the Spirit of God to reach out to others, connect with them, and bless people through our good relationship with them. Establishing good, meaningful, fruitful, beneficial, and lasting relationships, must to start from relationships in our homes, marriages, and family members. We then extend the good relationship habits to those outside of our homes and families.
It takes faith to do all these, since it is hard to relate to people in the light of our human weaknesses and faults. When all of our faith is directed and targeted towards the building of good relationships with God and people, all the other needs of mankind rather become the vital aids that provide the opportunities and infrastructure for the building and expression of our love for God and mankind. The marriage, food, health, clothing, property, education, career, businesses, investments, achievements, positions, gifts, and even our church buildings and several establishments will finally pass away after death, but our relationship with God and people will continue in eternity. We must recognize God as the ultimate supplier and provider of every need of each human being on earth.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 13, 19).
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness” (Psalm 24: 1).
“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8: 18).
We can see that the primary purpose of God giving us wealth and any good thing is to establish a relationship with us — as a covenant, in a permanent relationship that cannot be broken, beginning from the earth and continuing forever in heaven.
The quality of life we would experience after we leave this world will depend on what we did with all that God supplied for all of our various needs. How we used the good things of life to worship and serve God, and also used all the resources and blessings to serve our fellow men and women.
We must therefore make every effort to use our faith and prayers to live this present life with values of eternity. We must constantly remind ourselves that our real home is in Heaven, and our rewards in eternity have a lot to do with how we relate to God and people down here on earth.
That is what the apostle Paul meant when he said: “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1: 21).
Copyright Nov. 2008 Rev. Dr.Samuel A. Kisseadoo (Professor of Biology, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, USA)
Founder and President, Fruitful Ministries International Inc., 6 Red Robin Turn, Hampton, Virginia 23669, USA.
Ph 757-7289330 Fax 757-7289335 [email protected]