Faith, Obedience and Prayer

Asbury Free Methodist – By Rev. Brent Russett

November 7th, 2021

Pray! Part 5

            This morning we are on part five of our series “Pray!” Today we’re going to look at faith, obedience, and prayer. If you are familiar with the Bible, then you will know that faith and prayer go together. All over the New Testament, you will see verses like

Mark 11:24 (NIV)

24 Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

            When you ask in prayer, believe that you received it, and then it will be yours. Prayer and belief, prayer and faith are woven tightly together. This is where our problems with faith and prayer start to arise. Do I have enough faith? What would a faith look like? How do I get that kind of faith? If you are like me, you believe that God can answer your prayer. He is God, after all, and God can do anything. You have faith that God has the power to answer your prayer. But the question is, will he answer my prayer? If I am not sure that God will answer my prayer, –then how can I pray in faith?

            First, let me acknowledge that believing that God can answer prayer is a good start. It is where all prayer begins, and it is the beginning of faith.

But believing that God can answer prayer is not the kind of faith that verses like Mark 11:24 are talking about. The kind of faith that Mark is talking about is the kind of faith that not only believes that God can but also believes that God will answer our prayer. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I struggle with that kind of faith. But that is a kind of faith that I want to struggle with you to move towards.

            When we think about praying in faith, it may be helpful to start with what faith is not. I think the confusion around this area has led followers of Jesus to pray in ways that are unhelpful.

1. The exercise of faith is not a formula.

            Ending our prayers by saying, “I pray this in Jesus’ name” is not a guarantee that it will happen. There is absolutely nothing wrong with ending your prayer that way. But praying with a formula is not praying in faith. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are saying that we believe that Jesus would sign his name to that prayer request. That is a good step but not the only step.

            The second false notion about faith is that

2. Faith is not about claiming a Bible verse.

            Some people get angry because they claimed a verse and prayed it, yet God didn’t seem to respond to their prayer. Some people make the mistake of claiming verses that were meant for specific Bible characters but are not universal in application. Some make the mistake of claiming Bible verses that are written as principles, not promises. Some people make the mistake of claiming verses that have conditions attached to them without taking note of the condition. We claim promises like

John 15:7

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

            We like the promise, but we do not think much about the condition that our lives need to remain in Jesus, and his word remains in us.

            There are scriptures that we all can claim. To as many as received him, he gave the power to become children of God. If you confess your sin, he is faithful and just to forgive you of your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. The promises of salvation are meant to be claimed.

            But if you are praying for your business to thrive or your aunt to be healed, or your child to come to know Jesus – it is not quite that simple.

The third false notion about faith is

3. Faith is not simply speaking positive words.

            God has promised that his word would not return void, but he is not promised that our words would not return empty. It seems to me that sometimes we put words in God’s mouth.

4. Faith is not getting what you want.

            Faith is about getting what God wants done through you! Often true faith is about giving rather than getting. Like we talked about last week, to often we ask with the wrong motives.

            The last false notion about faith is that

5. Faith is not about having faith in our faith.

            When we are learning to trust God, one of the pitfalls is to have faith in our faith. We are questioning ourselves as to whether we have enough faith. Then we get to a point where we think we have enough faith, so we put our trust in our faith. God is the object of our faith. Our faith is not the object of our faith. Don’t get caught up in the hamster wheel of whether or not you have enough faith.

Here is what true faith is

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

            Faith means that we hope for something and have an assurance that something will happen even though we cannot see it. It is the confidence in what we hope for or the assurance of things hoped for. As you can see, that is different than believing that God can do something. Faith means believing that God will do something.

            The second part of that verse tells us that we cannot see what we hope for. Paul says

Romans 8:24 (NIV)

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

            You do not have to hope for what you already have. We hope for that which we do not see. Because we cannot see, we must rely on someone else who can see all things. We must rely on someone who is reliable and who is able to bring the events to pass.

            If someone who is trustworthy makes a promise, you do not see the fulfillment of that promise until it happens. You have to rely on what is unseen until the promise comes into being.

            Faith in God is like that. God is trustworthy. His word is dependable. But here is what you need to know. When the Bible talks about the word of God, it uses two different words. Logos – which is translated as “word,” refers to God’s universal word for everyone. That is the Bible. Jesus reveals himself as the word because he is for everyone.

            There is a second word that is also translated as “word.” This Greek word is “rhema.” This refers to a specific word for a specific person or group of people at a specific time spoken by Christ.

            You may be familiar with the armour of God. There is the helmet of salvation in the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth and the shoes of peace and the shield of faith, but the only offensive weapon we’re given is the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. The word of God is the rhema word of God. When you are being tempted, which is a form of spiritual warfare, then reading the genealogy of Jesus is probably not going to help you at that time. That word was not spoken for that situation.

            To have a word from God that speaks into a specific situation, you must hear from God. That specific word might come to you through scripture or through listening prayer, or through some other means. But you know that you know that God has spoken to you about the outcome of your prayer.


            Here Is how that works out in practicality. If you have something happen in your life that needs prayer – you pray. If you come to me and ask me to pray that God would do a miracle in your life, I am going to pray for your prayer request. That is good and right. That is what we call presenting our requests to God. It is prayer. It is a good prayer. Sometimes it is the only kind of prayer we can pray.

 But it is not the prayer of faith. It is the kind of prayer where I believe, and you believe that God can do it. But we are not sure that he will do it. Am I confident of things hoped for? Am I confident about that healing or that provision? No. I know that we can trust that God will be with us whatever may come. I know that we can trust God that he will make all things right either in this life or the next. But am I sure that I am going to get what I ask for? No. So I put my faith in a God who is good and pray and wait and pray.


            There have been times when people have come to me and ask for prayer, and something wells up within me that I believe not only that God can do it but that he is going to do it. When that happens, a prayer of faith happens. But I have experienced that as an exception rather than a rule.

            So, how are we supposed to pray in faith? How can we pray believing that not only that God can do it, but that God will do it?

Here is how the prayer of faith needs to happen. Instead of spending a lot of time asking God for what we want him to do, we instead spend time asking God what he wants to do. Then we listen, and we wait until we hear from God. He may speak through scripture where a promise that was made to somebody else jumps out the page, and you know it’s for you. He may speak in a still small voice in your heart and mind, or he may speak in some other way. But when he speaks, you know that you have heard from God. You have a rhema word from God. He may speak and tell you that he is not going to answer the prayer the way you wanted it answered.

            I remember praying for someone who was young and had cancer. God spoke to me about that person and told me he was not going to heal him. People from all over were praying for his healing, but I couldn’t. That is what happened to Paul when he prayed for his thorn in the flesh – God said – I am not going to take that away, but I am going to give you grace.

            Whatever the need, we go to the Lord and get a word from God that he is going to perform a miracle. You get a rhema word about your situation.

            When You get this word from God, that changes everything. When you get this word from God, you know that it is his will and that it should happen. Notice I didn’t say that it will happen but that it should happen. Hearing a word from Christ opens up the potential for faith to be activated.

            If you do not know how to hear from God, then please, in the coming months, take the opportunity to learn through either the abide small groups or in a “Hearing God” seminar. Learning to hear from God is foundational for learning to pray in faith.


            After You hear from God, then you start to pray. When you hear from God, that is when the praying starts. That is also where obedience comes into the picture.

            When you get a word from God, God expects you to respond with faith and do something with that word.

            Sometimes you have to speak out a word. In Mark Chapter 11, Jesus cursed a fig tree. The next day when they were walking by that fig tree, the disciples pointed out that it had withered. Here is what Jesus said,

Mark 11:22–23 (NIV)

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

            Notice that Jesus talks about speaking to the mountain and about believing what you say is part of the mountain being moved. Now, of course, the mountain is just a metaphor for the obstacles in your life. But once you have a word from God, then sometimes you must speak out loud about what you believe God is going to do.

            Usually, when you are praying in faith because you have received word from God, you also have to do something. Sometimes acting in faith is difficult because faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. If you are acting in faith, you are acting on what you cannot see. Yet, that is part of the prayer of faith.


            In 2 Kings 4 Elisha sees the wife of a friend of his. His friend had died and the creditors had comment taken her two children. Elisha told her to take the only thing that she had in her house, a jar of oil. He said go and borrow jars from your neighbors as many as you can and then shut the door behind you and use the jar that you have to fill up the other jars. This makes no sense one small jar doesn’t fill up 50 big jars. But this was an act of faith. This was obedient. God performed a miracle.

            When God has spoken that rhema word and you have his promise that he is going to come through in a particular situation often times you will need to speak in faith and act in faith.


            Here is what you also need to remember. While you are waiting in faith and acting in obedience, you should continue to pray. I love the story of Elijah when the drought came to an end. In 1 Kings 18:1, God promises him that this three-year drought is going to come to an end.

            God has promised, but then in this chapter we see Elijah have to pray seven times before something changes. A small cloud appears. That was enough for Elijah. He ran because he knew it was about to storm.

            Here is what James says,

James 5:17–18 (NIV)

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

            James’ point was that Elijah was just like you and me. He was a human just like you are. He prayed, and stuff happened.

            There is so much that I could say about prayer, but here is what I am convinced of. If Asbury is going to be who God wants us to be then we need to become a people of prayer. Not only that, but we need to become a people who see prayers answered.

            Can you imagine a church full of people who are praying for Perth and Lanark? Then we start to hear from God about the miracles that he wants to do. Then we start speaking and obeying God in regards to those prayers. And we pray, and we pray, and we pray – and we see God come through again and again.

            This is the kind of thing that changes a church. This is the kind of thing that changes a community, a town and a county. This is the kind of thing that when following generations look back at this time in Asbury’s history – they will see what God has done.

            As I look at our church, I see faith as one of our major growth points. We need to move from “God can answer to prayer” to “God will answer prayer.” Our faith needs to grow in terms of hearing God, and then speaking and acting in obedience and then continuing to pray until God comes through.

            I am still learning and growing in this. But I want to invite you into this growth process. The faith to believe not only that God can but that God will answer our prayer.       

My question to you is, will you join us in this journey.

Sermon Questions – Faith, Obedience and Prayer

November 7,2021 – Pray! Part 5.


1. What is inspiring gratitude in your life?

2. If you could only pray one thing for the town of Perth, other than everyone would come to know Jesus, what would it be?

Digging in.

3. When you pray, do you believe that God can answer your prayer? Do you believe that God will give you what you ask for? How would you describe the difference between these two kinds of faith?

4. Read Mark 11:24. How is faith described in this verse? Does this challenge your prayer life?

5. In the sermon, five descriptions of what faith is not were given. Which one would you be most prone to fall into?

  • Faith is not a formula.
  • Faith is not about claiming a Bible verse
  • Faith is not simply speaking positive words
  • Faith is not getting what you want
  • Faith is not about having faith in our faith.

6. Hebrews 11:1 gives a definition of faith. Read it in a couple of translations if you can. How would you describe what this verse is saying in your own words?

7. Two Greek words are translated “Word” in our English bibles. Logos – refers to God’s universal word for everyone. Rhema – refers to a specific word for a specific person or group of people.

In Ephesians 6:10-17, it describes the armour of God. Specifically, it talks about the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. That Greek word is “Rhema.” What does this tell you about the definition of Rhema?

8. What is the connection between having a rehma word from God and praying in faith?

9. What is your main challenge in hearing from God for specific situations?

10. When you hear from God about a prayer request where you can believe that God is going to answer your prayer.

a) What is the connection between faith and speaking – Mark 11:22-23

b) What is the connection between faith and obedience – 2 Kings 4:1-7

11. When you have a word from God, you need to keep on praying. 1 Kings 18:41-45, James 5:17-18. James’s point is that Elijah was a human being like you are, and yet God answered prayer. Do you believe that God will answer you like he did Elijah (Why/Why not?)