Don’t pray ‘outside’ of your faith?

| November 24, 2015


First to be absolutely clear, I’m not endorsing this statement. I’m writing this post to get feedback on what all of you think about this.

I recently read this in a book by an author that was recommended to me by a Christian leader. This author is David Pawson and he has written several books that are not so easy to find in stores anymore. The book I was reading is called ‘Practising the Principles of Prayer‘. It is a pretty good book until I came to this paragraph where he was sharing about what a French missionary shared with him and the message is basically, ‘Never pray outside your faith’.

I shall just quote the entire passage from that book so that I do not misrepresent what David might be trying to say.

I learned this message from a French missionary. He said to me, ‘David, never pray outside your faith’, and I thought: ‘What on earth does he mean by that?’

‘God is able to do exceedingly more than we ask or even imagine. That is what Paul says in Ephesians chapter 3. Do you know the hymn Therefore thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring?’

He replied, ‘Yes, he is able to, and he often will do more than you ask or imagine, but you must learn to pray within your faith.’

He continued, ‘I learned this lesson with my next door neighbour. When they moved in, I put them on my prayer list and was praying for them daily – for their conversion – and nothing happened. Finally, I said to the Lord, ‘Why? You’re not showing me any answer to my prayer. I’m praying daily for my neighbour.’ The Lord said, ‘Because you don’t believe it.’ I replied, ‘But Lord, you can do anything,’ The Lord said, ‘I know I can, but you don’t believe it.’

He said, ‘But I do, Lord, anything is possible for you’, and the Lord said, ‘No you don’t you can’t imagine your neighbour as a Christian, can you?’ He replied, ‘No, I can’t!’ So he asked what he should pray for, and the Lord said, ‘Pray for something that you can believe will happen.’ So then he prayed that he might have a good conversation with his neighbour. And within a week they had had a great talk over the garden fence. So then he prayed that he might get into the house after that, his neighbour asked him in for coffee. Then he prayed that the neighbour would bring the subject round to religion, and the neighbour asked him where he went on Sundays. Then he prayed that he might get the neighbour along to something at church, and the neighbour came.

Do you see what he was doing? He was stretching his faith from the inside. He was praying within his faith, and as he stretched it from the inside, it was growing. Until, finally, he said, ‘Lord, convert my neighbour’ – and he was converted.

So do not try to feel your faith; do not try to force it; but stimulate it by studying answers to prayer, particularly in the Bible, and stretch it from inside by praying within your faith. It is much better to pray for something small that you can believe, so that when God replies to your faith it will grow that little bit, and you will pray for something more.

Often one listens to prayers such as, ‘Lord, send revival to our town!’ I want to stop that person and say: ‘What is in your mind when you pray that prayer? What do you think will happen? And can you see that happening? Would it not be better to start with something you could believe would happen, that you can see happening with the eye of faith even though it is invisible to you as yet? Start within your faith and stretch is from inside.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how I felt about reading this passage. Most of it made sense and I can see the benefits of praying for things that you can believe it and in so doing, help to build more faith when it happens. But I’m not entirely sure that is how the boy’s father approached Jesus for healing of his boy and when he uttered the words in response to Jesus, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief’. Does it then mean that we should not be praying lofty prayers of faith but rather stick to ‘reasonable’, bite-sized prayers? I find that a little hard to swallow.

But then again, Jesus did tell us that we are must believe for whatever we ask for, then we will have them. So what does having faith in your prayers being answered really means? I know that God can heal and that He longs to heal all of us. But I also know that He doesn’t heal everyone who asks. I don’t know why. So when I pray for my sick child, I’m stuck in this tension of having the expectancy that instantaneous healing will occur but also knowing that it doesn’t always happen. So do I have faith that God can heal? Sure. Do I have faith that He will heal in that situation? Not so much. So should I still be praying for healing then?

I would love to hear what you guys feel about this whole topic. Please do share it via the comments below as I’m sure it will benefit lots of other readers. Looking forward to hearing from you!



Category: Prayer

About the Author ()

I have been a follower of Christ for more than 20 years now. Started from a Methodist church, then went on to a few charasmatic churches and again back to a Methodist church now. Thus I have experienced and seen a wide flavor of different denominations. Personally, I consider myself non-denominational as I can worship in many different styles. The important thing is that I follow the gospel and love Jesus. I am currently serving as a musician and a worship leader in my church. I believe that my calling is to help others enter into the presence of God through worship. I also enjoy teaching and discipling other believers, which is the main reason why this site was started. I hope to find other believers to join me in this cause to reach out and encourage other believers.

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