How to Have Faith
by David Jeremiah
I have loved sports as long as I can remember. Professional athletes practice every day in order to be the best in their sport. Did you know the exercise required for physical excellence illustrates a spiritual principle? It takes exercise and effort to achieve spiritual fitness. Think about it. Some of us lift weights and burn calories for countless hours at the gym, but we don’t display that same determination in our spiritual lives. Since none of us can become godly through osmosis, we need to learn to exercise our faith.
The Book of Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (11:6). Yet how many of us can define faith and how it has worked in our lives? The anatomy of faith remains a mystery to many Christians. Faith isn’t just a biblical term to study. It’s a dynamic principle of living. And if we experience it regularly, we will find ourselves in the best spiritual shape of our lives.
What then is involved in exercising your faith? I’ve defined the anatomy of an active faith with the help of some familiar exercises.
Sit under the teaching of the Word of God every week. The Greek word for church, ecclesia, is found more than 100 times in the New Testament, underscoring the importance of the church. In Acts 20:7, we read that the disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread and to hear the teachings of the Apostle Paul.
It’s alarming to me how Christians today have allowed their minds to be filled with the garbage of this world. What you put into your mind programs your life. That’s why it is so important to hear God’s Word on a continual basis.
Be ready to run to the aid of a hurting soul and demonstrate God’s love. We were not created to live and function alone. We need one another for help and support. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says that “Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his companion.” When I was going through a time of deep discouragement in ministry, a pastor friend called me up just to tell me he loved me and was praying for me. He called at just the right time with just the right words I needed. He didn’t hesitate to reach out, but ran to help me in my difficult hour.
Be an encourager. In the same way a traditional push-up strengthens your chest and shoulder muscles, lifting up a person in need builds your spiritual muscles. Second Corinthians 1:4 speaks of the Father of mercies “who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Christians who have been encouraged by God should be the world’s best at encouraging others.
Pray daily. If we want the Lord’s blessing on our lives, there is no substitute for the prescription of prayer. The apostle Paul urges us in Colossians 4:2 to “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it.” It takes effort and commitment to confess your sins before God, and to pray for guidance for yourself and others. Prayer is perhaps one of the most difficult disciplines to practice as a Christian, but it leads to spiritual fitness and vitality.
Lunge into Christian service. Some of us avoid ministry altogether. Instead of contributing our gifts to others, we’re more comfortable being on the receiving end. When God shows you a need that you can fill, get involved and see the Holy Spirit work through you. First Corinthians 12:7 says “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”
Ask God to stretch you beyond your comfort zone. When I was in seventh grade, my father left his pastorate at a prosperous church to become the president of a struggling Baptist college of less than ninety students. Many people told him he was throwing his career away. But as my father stretched way beyond his comfort zone in obedience to God, things began to take shape. Today that school, Cedarville College, has a thriving student body of some 1,800 students. I learned as I watched my father that faith is a life-changing truth. Is God asking you to stretch out in faith in a specific area of your life?
Walk in the Word daily. Matthew 4:4 says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Reading the Bible is like exercise. Some days you don’t feel like doing it, but you know it’s good for you. You can’t have a growing, flourishing life unless the Word of God is at the core of your being. R.C. Sproul said it painfully well, “We fail in our duty to study God’s Word, not so much because it’s difficult to understand, not so much because it’s dull or boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is we are lazy.” Discipline yourself for godliness by making it a habit to read the Bible every day.
Share your faith—no matter what the obstacle! Jesus’ last words in the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), make it clear that we should be passionate about sharing the Gospel. Yet many of us remain silent about Jesus because we’re afraid of appearing uninformed, pushy, or narrow-minded. Witnessing can seem as impossible as jumping over a tall hurdle! An active faith enables us to overcome the obstacles of fear, apathy, and pride in order to say, “Lord, I’m willing to share Your love with anyone You place in my life.”
Are you routinely practicing these eight moves of an active faith? Being consistent is key because a “stop-start” exercise regimen rarely produces lasting results. If you want to make a new start in your spiritual fitness routine, consult your physician—the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. Ask God to help you practice daily spiritual disciplines that will increase your faith.
Anyone who has ever tried long-distance running knows that every runner comes to a point where he or she can hardly put one foot in front of the other. But as the runner presses on, his energy is replenished, and he finishes the race with a great sense of accomplishment. Likewise, the road of dynamic Christian living requires perseverance. But unlike bodily exercise, the benefits of spiritual fitness last into eternity.