Growing up in the church, the message was hammered into me by various teachers and evangelists: “Faith is not a feeling!”
However, by God’s creative design, we humans are complex emotional beings. And the suppression or denial of our emotions disturbs the balance of the delicate eco-system of spirit-mind-body that is essential for the maintenance of good health and well-being.
To put it simply, if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right, and woe betides the man or woman who disregards the warning signal! I’m sure we can all remember times when we felt in our heart that we shouldn’t enter a particular business deal, or visit a particular venue, or eat a particular food etc. Or, conversely, times when we felt a strong conviction, an inner confidence, a deep assurance – a ‘knowing’ – that we should buy a particular house, or accept a particular job, or marry a particular person.
Indeed, faith is a feeling … a knowing deep in your heart … that your prayer has been answered and you have received that which you desired. Jesus put it this way in Mark 11:22-24;
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
That’s interesting, isn’t it? “Believe that you have received them, and then you will have them.” The receiving of the answer to prayer by faith, precedes the physical manifestation of the miracle. But let me ask you a question, “What does it mean to believe that you have received the answer to your prayer?”
Remember, faith is an inner knowing, or confidence, or assurance. Faith is assuming the feeling of a prayer answered, a desire fulfilled, and a goal accomplished. Faith is projecting yourself into the future, and seeing and feeling the answer to your prayer.
In my experience, very few people who come forward to receive prayer for healing already ‘see’ their selves as healed. In many cases it’s like buying a lottery ticket: “I’ll give it a shot; if my number comes up, well and good. If not, there’s always plan b”. However, that is not faith. The spirit of faith is exemplified by the woman with the internal haemorrhage who repeatedly said to herself, “If I can just touch Jesus’ clothes, I will be made well” (Mark 5:25-34). She saw and felt herself being healed, long before she touched the Master. Or, to put it another way, she believed that she received and then she experienced the manifestation of her healing.
Faith is a shift in perception
There was a man in the Old Testament who for much of his life had been conditioned to believe that he would never experience the honour of fatherhood, and that his wife would never enjoy the pleasure of motherhood. His name, of course, was Abram. But one day God stepped into his life and changed his whole centre of reference, and as a result a dramatic shift took place in his perception of reality.
…the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed – God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform (Romans 4:16-21).
For the best part of fifty years all Abram had contemplated was the infertility of his wife’s womb, now compounded by his own age-induced impotence. However, as a result of his encounter with Almighty God, a revolution took place in Abram’s thinking – he started to imagine what ‘could’ be, and then became convinced that it ‘would’ be.
The apostle Paul declared that one’s whole life could be transformed simply by the renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2) – by shifting one’s thinking, by imagining what is possible. And so it was with Abram (Abraham): he started to see himself as a father, and in seeing himself as a father he started to feel like a father. In feeling like a father, he started to talk like a father, and in talking like a father he started to act like a father.
Every time he called himself by his new name ‘Abraham’ (father of many nations), he talked like a father. He was making an ‘I am’ affirmation, as opposed to an ‘I hope that one day I will be’ petition. Every time he looked down at the sand or up at the stars, he saw himself as a father (so shall your seed be). And gradually, day by day, his world began to change from the inside out. This is what Paul meant when he said that Abraham grew stronger in faith and became fully convinced that what God had promised He was able to perform. Because when you can see it and feel it, you know that you have it. Faith is indeed, “the evidence of things not yet manifested” (Heb. 11:1).
Faith is acting “as if”
“God” said Paul, “gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Notice the words “as though they did.” Faith is acting ‘as if’ you already were the person you desire to be; ‘as if’ you already were healed of that sickness or disease; ‘as if’ you already had the finances to undertake that project and pursue that goal; ‘as if’ that friend or loved one for whom you have been praying had already received Christ as Saviour and Lord.
That is the essence of Jesus’ instruction to the paralytic to “rise, take up your bed and walk” (Matt. 8:6). In other words, “if you believe that I have healed you, starting acting like it.”
In conclusion, I would like to tell you a story about a man named Reginald Price. In the early 1950’s, as Australia tried to recover from the social and economic traumas of the Second World War, money was scarce and only the privileged middle or upper class were able to afford an automobile.
Being a man of faith and prayer, Reg Price asked the Lord to provide him with a car so that he could accommodate the needs of his growing family. It would have to be a miracle, as Reg could not afford to buy a car on his meagre wages.
One day, whilst in prayer, Reg felt the Lord challenge him: “If you believe that I will provide you with a car, build a garage!” So, in obedience to the word of the Lord, Reg built a garage. A nice garage, to be sure: nice and empty, and an object of derision to his unbelieving neighbours.
“Reg has lost his mind” they cried. “He’s nuts!” On reflection, I guess they were right. Building a garage when you don’t have a car makes about as much sense as building an ark when it never rains.
Shortly afterwards Reg fell sick. To aid his convalescence, his pastor, C.L. Greenwood, invited Reg to accompany him on a ministry trip to Parkes in New South Wales. It so happened that in the church at Parkes there was a farmer who was anxious to sell his Ford Prefect, and upon hearing of Reg’s need, offered it to him at a ridiculous price.
So Reg returned from Parkes with more than he had bargained for. And needless to say, the garage was no longer empty.
How do I know these things? Because Reginald Price was my grandfather!