Tim Kerr is an old friend, but what’s most important and relevant about him for our readers is that he’s created a short book titled Take Words With You. This power-packed resource is designed to help Christians take 2500+ scripture-promises and convert them into potent prayer for real life. I’ve asked Tim to allow us to reprint one of his articles on prayer, which draws on what he’s learned over his years of praying. Hope you enjoy Tim’s encouragement as much as I enjoy knowing he prays for me!
Guest post from Tim Kerr:
Praying with Faith
Lack of faith lies at the root of all poor praying, feeble praying, little praying, unanswered praying.
–E. M. Bounds
There are two common extremes when it comes to the exercise of faith in prayer. The first extreme is the “name it and claim it” approach which treats the one praying as supreme and God as the “genie in the lamp” who exists to serves us. The second extreme is the group that considers faith as something that starts the Christian life, but is “used” only occasionally after conversion. For these people the idea of praying with faith would, at most, mean praying something like: “if it be your will”.
There are, of course, times where such acquiescence is the very model of godliness (See the section “Living Before the Face of God” at the front of this manual). To accept what God providentially gives displays great faith and trust in God. Yet it is not always so. Sometimes it displays a refusal to trust God for greater things; really just plain old unbelief masquerading as surrender (Mark 9:22-24, 28-29). There are more unbelieving believers than we might be willing to admit. Well then, what is real faith supposed to look like in our lives? And how is faith intended to function in our prayers?
Here is a simple example that will hopefully make this a little clearer.
A light switch holds no intrinsic power. Yet the power supply in the house only reaches the light bulbs when the switch is thrown. The switch does not power the light, yet it is the conduit that connects the real power to the bulb. So it is with faith. Think of how the Holy Spirit connected your life to the saving power of Christ. Did he do it apart from faith or through faith?
Think with me briefly about two well known stories in the gospels. One involves a woman who touched Jesus in a crowd. There were many people pressing and touching Jesus as was plain by Peter’s answer (Luke 8:45) yet only one was healed by an infusion of Divine power.
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” Luke 8:46
What was the difference between her “touch” and the others’? Only one person in that crowd reached out with faith (Luke 8:48)! Faith was the connecting point.
Scene two: Jesus is in His hometown, but seems hindered in the display of His power among them. The cause is not presented in terms of God’s sovereignty (though God was certainly sovereign over the situation) but in terms of human unbelief. No switch to connect the power to the lights.
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. Mark 6:5-6
So then how do we get the kind of faith that Christ is looking for? How do believers “grow faith” in God for praying boldly? Here are three wonderful sources that generate faith:
1. The Person of Christ
Study His life in the gospels and perceive how He reveals God to us. Here we behold the infinite and timeless Creator wrapped in human skin and living on our planet. In Him we see God’s heart to work on behalf of the needy (for example: Luke 7:12-15; Mark 2:4-11; Matthew 8:2-3; Matthew 15:22-28; etc).
The faith which creates powerful praying is the faith which centers itself on a powerful person. Faith in Christ’s ability to do and to do greatly, is the faith which prays greatly.
–E. M. Bounds
2. The Cross of Christ
The redemptive “Christ-focused word” generates faith both for the brand-new believer as well as the long-time believer. The look at Christ on the cross in our place generates faith. For one, saving faith. For the other, sanctifying faith.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
The cross, in a particular way, reveals God’s heart for unworthy sinners. It reveals the incomprehensible measures He will take to rescue us. It reveals God to us as nothing else in all Scripture does. God does nothing that He isn’t. Everything He does reveals His intrinsic character. The cross reveals God’s glorious nature to us in all its splendor!
The supreme moment of divine self-disclosure, the greatest moment of displayed glory, was in the shame of the cross.
–D. A. Carson
Many of us never move beyond the faith of “God can” (ability). But the cross surely shows us more of God than that! It shows us that God is not only able, but willing—“God desires” (attitude). But beyond that it displays in bold strokes that God will actually act on our behalf—“God does” (action)! Doesn’t the following promise declare this very truth to our often unbelieving hearts?
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
Faith in Christ’s ability to do and to do greatly, is the faith which prays greatly.
–E. M. Bounds
3. The Promises of Scripture
The promises assure us that God is a “rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 4:19-21; Hebrews 11:26; etc). Remember John Bunyan’s classic story, “Pilgrims Progress”?
What was it that ignited the faith that released Christian from the dungeon of despair? It was a small key that he found in his pocket that unlocked all the doors of Doubting Castle. The name of the key was “the key of promise”. These promises include many wonderful revelations about who God is. Seeing the greatness of our God leads to increased faith in Him.
Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalms 9:10
More about Tim:
Although he was born in Canada, Tim Kerr has spent over half his life in Asia. When Tim was a year old, his parents moved from Canada to India and lived there for the next 10 years. Tim’s first 4 years in India were spent on a snake infested leper compound and hospital where his father was the superintendent. Later they moved to Calcutta and Bangalore, places where Tim has many fond memories of his childhood. Later the family returned to Canada for Tim’s high school years.
During college, Tim met his sweetheart Joanne, who had grown up in “Little Italy” area of Toronto. After college and marriage, Tim and Joanne moved to Japan for 12 years. Tim was involved in starting new churches in that fascinating country. In 2000, their family moved back to Canada. Tim was involved in mentoring men one-to-one as a full time job for the next 5 years.He has been the pastor of Sovereign Grace Church Toronto since its beginning in the summer of 2004. Tim and Joanne have 4 children aged 21-27.