Letter from John Woodhouse

Dear friends

Prayer is faith speaking.

Christian faith is, of course, faith in God. It is that confident trust in God’s goodness to us — made possible by his promises spoken to us in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christian prayer, then, is this trust expressed in words spoken to God. We bring our requests to him knowing that he cares for us and is able to do more than we can ask or think.

Our prayers, therefore, are to be guided by our faith.

How foolish it would be to pray in a way that departed from our faith. To pray, for example, contrary to God’s revealed will would be to pray contrary to faith in God. If we were to pray out of greed or deceit or malice, our prayers would not be “prayers of faith,” and therefore not Christian prayers at all.

This means that prayer is not simply saying anything to God. Faith in God is to be the guide to our prayers. We frequently find prayer and faith linked emphatically in the Bible. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22).

This is what James called “the prayer of faith” (James 5:15). Prayer that is not guided by faith in God is not Christian prayer. “… ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).

Faith, in turn, is shaped by hearing the Word of God. Our trust in God is brought to life by his Word, and entirely circumscribed by his Word. The logic of prayer – faith – hearing is wonderfully expressed by Paul: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:14, 17).

Your brother in Christ
John Woodhouse
Acting Senior Minister