We read that ‘faith can move mountains, yet many of us find we are unable to move anything at all. How do we increase our faith to the point where we can confidently call on God for the good of others, as well as ourselves, and see results? How do we develop enough faith to trust and follow God’s direction in our lives?
I wanted to find the Greek meaning of the word we translate as ‘faith’, so I turned to Greek scholar, W. E. Vine. He writes that:
The main elements in ‘faith’ in its relation to the invisible God, as distinct from faith in man, are especially brought out in the use of this Greek noun. The elements are (1) a firm conviction providing a full acknowledgement of God's revelation or truth (2) a personal surrender to him (3) the conduct inspired by such surrender. Emphasis is given to one or other of these elements according to the Biblical context. All this stands in contrast to ‘belief’ in its purely natural exercise, which consists of an opinion held in good faith without necessarily reference to its proof.
In the Old Testament the word ‘faith’ occurs only twice. It is never just acceptance of a set of doctrines or outward acceptance of the law but is utter confidence in the faithfulness of God and a loving obedience to his will.
The New Testament tells us that the promised Messiah had come, and that Jesus of Nazareth was that Messiah. To believe him meant to become a Christian and was pivotal in the experience of the individual. Jesus offered himself as the object of faith and made plain that faith in him was necessary for eternal life. He promised to send faith as a “fruit of the Holy Spirit” after he went to the Father. This may be seen in the reborn person’s spirit even at difficult times, not just on their best days.
‘Faith’ may also refer to the body of truth which constitutes the whole of the Christian message, such as in Jude 3:3.
Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed
Like us, the disciples wanted more faith to be able to forgive as they should. Jesus responded by saying that the faith the size of a mustard seed was enough to move a tree into the sea. His response made it clear that only a small increase in faith was required to forgive as He commanded. (Luke 17:1-4)
The same is often true in our own desire to grow in faith. We think we need a giant increase in faith to obey God, but He indicates that simply obeying Him with small steps of increasing faith is more than sufficient.
How Do We Increase Our Faith?
Read the Word
We receive a measure of faith from God, through receiving the Word of God — by studying the Bible.
So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10:17)
Reading or hearing God’s Word is like planting a garden. God’s Word is the seed that grows our garden of faith. Knowing His promises, what God says about you, about life, and about Jesus’ plan for eternal life are the Biblical basis for your faith. Meditating on its contents will give you the groundwork for growing your faith.
Practice the Word
If we fail to implement our Bible teachings and ignore what God is telling us, then our faith grows stagnant. It took faith for us to become children of God in the first place. Therefore, to grow and increase our faith, we need to use that “measure” of faith, the Bible, which God gives to everyone, and apply it.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22)
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (James 2:14-17 NIV)
We increase our faith by how we serve God. In Hebrews 11 we read of many great biblical leaders who were known for their faith. In each case, they faithfully served God. Abraham was willing to leave his homeland for a place he did not know. Moses returned to Egypt to free the Israelite slaves. To increase our faith, we are called to serve God in both large and small acts.
Look for practical ways in which you can increase your faith by applying what you know is true.
Associate with Other Christians
Being surrounded by others who are also seeking to grow in faith and recalling examples such as the people mentioned in Hebrews 11, can be of great help to increasing our own faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 says,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Earlier, the writer of Hebrews exhorted,
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Pray to Increase Your Faith
Prayer is a great way to increase our faith as it helps us maintain an active relationship with God. In prayer we can also ask God to increase our faith. God knows our heart and longs to answer according to His will. Our growth in faith is certainly His will for our lives and a prayer He will grant.
Martin Luther shared some very useful insights on how prayer is more effective when supported by faith and how prayer increases faith:
Prayer is a special exercise of faith. Faith makes the prayer acceptable because it believes that either the prayer will be answered, or that something better will be given instead. This is why James said, “let him who asks of God not waver in faith, for if he wavers, let him not think that he shall receive anything from the Lord.” This is a clear statement which says directly; He who does not trust will receive nothing, neither that for which he asks nor anything better.
Jesus himself has said, “therefore I say unto you. What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.” (Mark 11 )
James said ”you ask and you do not receive because you ask amiss“ (James 4: 3). For when this faith and confidence is not in the prayer, the prayer is dead.
Refer to post on unanswered prayer & waiting on God.
No one can believe how powerful prayer is and what it can affect, except those who have learned it by experience. It is important that we have a need to go to God in prayer. I know, whenever I have prayed earnestly, that I have been heard and have obtained more than I prayed for. God sometimes delays, but he always comes.
There is no Christian who does not have time to pray without ceasing. But I mean the spiritual praying, that is no one is so heavily burdened with his labor, but that if he will, he can, while working, speak with God in the heart, lay before him his need and that of other men, ask for help, make petition, and in all this exercise and strengthen his faith.
Praying to God with humble, sincere and heartfelt words and thoughts; Praying throughout your day as you have reasons for praise, guidance or help. This is when you will see your prayers answered and thus experience a great boost to your faith. The following 2 posts will be help you deepen your connection with God.
I like to keep a journal of the times God has directed me or answered prayer. If you do the same, you can look back and see the tracks of God’s faithfulness. He truly keeps His Word. Trusting Him with smaller problems builds our faith and gives us confidence in Him for the harder issues.
As believers, our desire to grow in faith should be accompanied by actions that match this desire. We can grow through applying what we do know, growing in God’s Word, serving God, surrounding ourselves with others who are growing in faith, and prayer. Even a small increase in faith is significant and worth the effort in our walk with God.
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Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. (Luke 17 5-6)
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matt 15:28)
Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, (2 Cor 10:15)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (Heb 4:14)
Three Ways to Increase Your Faith (crosswalk.com) by Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.