Take, for instance, the gift of praying in tongues (one of the four biblically-support ways of using that gift). You canít receive the gift of tongues without faith. When it first begins, it usually is not a language, only prayerful babbling. It is an articulated vehicle for mental prayer of praise (I Corinthians 14:14); it takes faith to develop it into a prayer language. After it does develop, it becomes more beautiful, more yielding, far more enriching. And its prayerful use builds more faith (Romans 8:26 and 27). The same is true in the more ordinary areas of our lives, where faith is needed. Consider, for instance, the problem of fear-control. God usually doesnít want us to be afraid. Jesus tells Jairus not to fear but to trust Him to raise his daughter from death (Mark 5:36). On more than a few occasions He tells His apostles to "fear not." "Do not worry (hae anxiety or fear) about what you are going to eat and wear," Jesus commands. Heathens, He says, worry about material things; authentic Christians do not (Matthew 6:32). Try giving yourself a "faith score" on the basis of your freedom from worry, anxiety or fear.
It is important to remember not to try to "work up" your feelings of faith but to look to the Lord to do it for you. The harder you try to create faith, the less you will succeed. It is important also to watch your focus of faith. For instance, trying to develop faith to believe your prayers will be answered, you might be developing faith in your faith, but not in Jesus Christ; only in that focus will faith "restore the soul" (Hebrews 10:39).
There was a little leaflet anonymously written back in the thirties called "The Golden Key", and translated into hundreds of languages. The whole idea of this very successful little booklet was: donít look at the waves, look at Jesus on the waves. Donít focus on your faith or on solving the problem, focus on Jesus, excepting Him to solve it. Our faith must become person-oriented, not problem-oriented.
Many people are problem-oriented individuals. When they are doing nothing, problems occupy their minds. While washing dishes or cooking a meal, their thoughts may turn to worrying about a sick husband or a financial problem or an alcoholic family member. This automatically sets limits to the depth of oneís faith, since it is problem-oriented thinking. Such thinking may not only stop the growth of faith; it may even diminish faith, and "those who shrink back in their faith give no pleasure to the Lord" (Hebrews 10:38).
Next Installment: Vertical Growth:Our Cooperation - part six
april 29, volume 9, no. 83   DAILY CATHOLIC - COLUMNS