Sometimes when we attempt to exercise faith in God, we fail to receive what we desire because we are not operating according to God’s Word. One of the most common mistakes occurs when we try to believe for something that God has not promised us.
For example, it is scriptural for married couples to trust God for children because God’s Word contains a promise upon which they can stand. I know of married couples who have been told by doctors that they could never bear children. They chose, however, to believe God instead, standing on the two promises listed below, and today they are parents of healthy children:
But you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days (Ex. 23:25-26).
You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle (Deut. 7:14).
These promises should encourage childless couples! To attempt to believe specifically for a boy or a girl, however, is another story. In the Bible there are no specific promises that tell us we can pick the sex of our future children. We must stay within the boundaries of Scripture if our faith is to be effectual. We can only trust God for what He has promised us.
Let’s consider a promise from God’s Word and then determine what we can believe based on that promise:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thes. 4:16).
Based on this scripture, we can certainly trust that Jesus is going to return.
Could we pray, however, believing that Jesus will return tomorrow? No, because this scripture and no other scripture promises us that. In fact, Jesus said that no one knows the day or the hour of His return.
We could pray, of course, hoping that Jesus would return tomorrow, but we would not be guaranteed it would happen. When we pray in faith, we are certain that what we are praying for will happen because we have God’s promise on it.
Based on this same scripture, we can trust that the bodies of those believers who have died will be resurrected at the return of Jesus. But can we have faith that those of us who are alive at Christ’s return will receive resurrection bodies at the same moment as the “dead in Christ” do, or possibly even before they do? No, because this scripture promises us just the opposite: The “dead in Christ will rise first.” In fact, the very next verse goes on to say, “Then we who are alive shall be caught up together in the air” (1 Thes. 4:17). Thus, there is no possibility that the “dead in Christ” won’t be first to receive their resurrection bodies when Jesus returns. God’s Word promises just that.
If we are going to trust God for something, we must be certain that it is God’s will for us to receive what we desire. God’s will can only be safely determined by examining His promises recorded in the Bible.
Faith works the same way in the natural realm. It would be foolish for you to believe that I was going to visit your home tomorrow at noon unless I had first promised you I would be there then.
Faith, without a promise on which to stand, is not really faith at all—it is foolishness. So before you ask God for anything, first ask yourself the question—which scripture in the Bible promises me what I desire? Unless you have a promise, you have no foundation for your faith.