Question

What is the prayer of faith?

Bible Answer

James 5:15 (NKJV) "And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven."

Matthew 21:21-22 (NKJV) "So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Inspired Answers

What Is The Prayer Of Faith?

“Prayer and faith are closely allied, and they need to be studied together. In the prayer of faith there is a divine science; it is a science that everyone who would make his lifework a success must understand. Christ says, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24. He makes it plain that our asking must be according to God's will; we must ask for the things that He has promised, and whatever we receive must be used in doing His will. The conditions met, the promise is unequivocal.” Education, p. 257.  

“Some have professed to have great faith in God and to have special gifts and special answers to their prayers, although the evidence was lacking. They mistook presumption for faith. The prayer of faith is never lost; but to claim that it will be always answered in the very way and for the particular thing we have expected is presumption.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 231.

“There are two kinds of prayer—the prayer of form and the prayer of faith. The repetition of set, customary phrases when the heart feels no need of God, is formal prayer. . . . We should be extremely careful in all our prayers to speak the wants of the heart and to say only what we mean. All the flowery words at our command are not equivalent to one holy desire. The most eloquent prayers are but vain repetitions if they do not express the true sentiments of the heart. But the prayer that comes from an earnest heart, when the simple wants of the soul are expressed just as we would ask an earthly friend for a favor, expecting that it would be granted—this is the prayer of faith….      After we have offered our petitions, we are to answer them ourselves as far as possible, and not wait for God to do for us what we can do for ourselves. The help of God is held in reserve for all who demand it. Divine help is to be combined with human effort, aspiration, and energy. But we cannot reach the battlements of heaven without climbing for ourselves. We cannot be borne up by the prayers of others when we ourselves neglect to pray; for God has made no such provision for us. . . . The unlovely traits in our characters are not removed, and replaced by traits that are pure and lovely, without some effort on our part….” My Life Today, p. 19.2,3.

“Jesus does not fail to answer the silent prayer of faith. He who simply takes God at His word, and reaches out to connect himself with the Saviour, will receive His blessing in return.” The Faith I Live By, 122.3.

“The prayer of faith is the key that unlocks the treasury of heaven. As we commit our souls to God, let us remember that He holds Himself responsible to hear and answer our supplications. He invites us to come to Him, and He bestows on us His best and choicest gifts—gifts that will supply our great need. He loves to help us. Let us trust in His wisdom and His power. Oh, what faith we should have! Oh, what peace and comfort we should enjoy! Open your heart to the Spirit of God. Then the Lord will work through you and bless your labors.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 195, 196.

“Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His experience testifies to the power of importunate prayer. It is now that we are to learn this lesson of prevailing prayer, of unyielding faith. The greatest victories to the church of Christ or to the individual Christian are not those that are gained by talent or education, by wealth or the favor of men. They are those victories that are gained in the audience chamber with God, when earnest, agonizing faith lays hold upon the mighty arm of power.      Those who are unwilling to forsake every sin and to seek earnestly for God's blessing, will not obtain it. But all who will lay hold of God's promises as did Jacob, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. “Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” Luke 18:7, 8.  Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 203.2.

“The summing up of the benefit of prayer is that devotion that leads to faith in God's promises. This faith is the key that opens the divine treasury, is the hand by which we appropriate to our use the richest gifts of God. The prayer of the contrite heart unlocks the treasure house of supplies, and lays hold of omnipotent power. This kind of prayer enables the suppliant to understand what it means to lay hold of the strength of God, and to make peace with him. This kind of prayer causes us to have an influence over those with whom we associate. The prayer of faith is not listless, dry, and uninteresting. It wells up from perfect trust and assurance, and by its fervor makes manifest to the world, to angels, and to men, that you do believe in God, and have made Christ your personal Saviour. The Lord Jehovah accepts the argument that is presented in the name of his Son, and places the resources of his merit at your command. It is our privilege and duty to bring the efficacy of the name of Christ into our petitions, and use the very arguments that Christ has used in our behalf. Our prayers will then be in complete harmony with the will of God. Then it is that Christ clothes the contrite suppliant with his own priestly vestments, and the human petitioner approaches the altar holding the holy censer, from which ascends the incense of the fragrance of the merit of Christ's righteousness.” Signs of the Times, June 18, 1896.

“Through personal effort joined with the prayer of faith, the soul is trained. Day by day the character grows into the likeness of Christ; and finally, instead of being the sport of circumstances, instead of indulging selfishness and being carried away by light and trifling conversation, the man is master of his thoughts and words. It may cost a severe conflict to overcome habits which have been long indulged, but we may triumph through the grace of Christ.” Review and Herald, June 10, 1884 par. 10.

“The wisdom of God, as displayed in the methods and instrumentalities employed to carry forward his work, is foolishness to the boastful and self-confident, because they know not the mystery of godliness. The Lord would teach his people at the present day the lesson of simple dependence upon that mighty arm which can overthrow the strongholds of Satan. The prayer of faith, offered by God's humble, obedient, trusting people, will bring them the victory.” Signs of the Times, July 21, 1881 par. 9.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” Why is it that we do not take God at His word? Asking and receiving are closely linked together. If you ask in faith for the things that God has promised, you will receive. Look to Jesus for the things that you need. Ask Him for forgiveness of sins, and as you ask in faith your heart will be softened, and you will forgive those who have injured you, and your petitions will go up to God fragrant with love. With praying comes watching unto prayer, and every thought and word and act will be in harmony with your earnest petition for reformation in life. The prayer of faith will bring corresponding returns. But a mere form of words, without earnest sincerity and fervent desire for help, with no expectation of receiving, will avail nothing. Let not such a petitioner think he shall receive anything of the Lord.” Review and Herald, March 28, 1912.

“God will hear the prayer of faith; but the sincerity of our prayers will be made manifest in our harmony with the great moral standard which will test every man's character. We need to open our hearts to the influence of the Spirit, and to realize its transforming power. The reason why you do not receive more of the saving help of God is that the channel of communication between Heaven and your own souls is clogged by worldliness, love of display, and desire for supremacy….” Gospel Workers (1892 edition), p. 452.1  

“In reading the history of the past year's labor, I saw distinctly how much the laborers had lost through a lack of faith; how much they could have asked of God, and how willingly he would have bestowed his grace upon them in answer to their humble prayers of faith. Many have fallen away, and many more will fall away, because they do not live by faith and increase in the knowledge of the truth day by day. The workers need to be greatly alarmed lest that light which is in them be removed from them. Watchfulness and prayer will alone keep their souls garrisoned against the entrance of the enemy.” Review and Herald, April 13, 1886 par. 7}  

“The simple prayer of faith is music in the ears of the Lord. But you cannot have faith unless you talk faith and live faith. Then you may expect large things. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and convert you, soul, body, and spirit, and you will show to all around you that your face is turned heavenward. You will be moved to holy endeavor. There is need of heart searching and seeking after God. Then God will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you a tender heart, which he can impress. May the Lord help and teach and lead and guide us by his Spirit, that in life and character we may be fashioned after the divine pattern.” Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 1696.1

The Prayer Of Faith Illustrated

“For some months past I have been afflicted with oppressed lungs. In addition to this, a few weeks since I had an attack of brain fever. I gave up my husband and children. I knew I must die unless God in mercy should rebuke the disease. The prayer of faith was offered, and immediate relief given. The fever was rebuked, and I was set free, and made triumphant in God. It seemed to me that Jesus was again upon earth, and even in the room with us. I felt his power, and his sweet blessing settled upon me like the dew.”  Youth Instructor, May 1, 1856.

The Practice Of The Prayer Of Faith

When Seeking Blessings

Matthew 21:21-22 (NKJV) "So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV) "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,"

"It is a part of God's plan to grant us, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not bestow did we not thus ask.” Great Controversy, p. 515.2 

When Facing Difficulties

Psalms 50:15 (NKJV) "Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Psalms 91:15-16 (NKJV) "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

“The words spoken to Christ's disciples come to us through their words. The Comforter is ours as well as theirs, at all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all affliction, when the present outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and souls feel helpless and alone. These are the times when the Comforter will be sent in answer to the prayer of faith. There is no more encouraging promise than this: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 2, p. 31.3.

“If you are afflicted or unjustly used, cry to God. Turn away from those whose hearts are as steel, and make your requests known to your Maker. Your case may seem discouraging, but do not look at outward appearances. Continue to pray. Have faith in God; for He has promised that He will hear the prayer of faith.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 5, 416.2.

When Praying In The Family

Psalms 34:7 (NKJV) "The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them."

Genesis 25:21 (NKJV) "Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived."

“In the church at home the children are to learn to pray and to trust in God. Teach them to repeat God's law. … Come in humility, with a heart full of tenderness, and with a sense of the temptations and dangers before yourselves and your children; by faith bind them to the altar, entreating for them the care of the Lord. Train the children to offer their simple words of prayer. Tell them that God delights to have them call upon Him. Will the Lord of heaven pass by such homes and leave no blessing there? Nay, verily. Ministering angels will guard the children who are thus dedicated to God. They hear the offering of praise and the prayer of faith, and they bear the petitions to Him who ministers in the sanctuary for His people and offers His merits in their behalf.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 110.2,3.  

“Affection cannot be lasting, even in the home circle, unless there is a conformity of the will and disposition to the will of God. … If the father and mother in the love and fear of God unite their interests to have authority in the home, they will see the necessity of much prayer, much sober reflection. And as they seek God, their eyes will be opened to see heavenly messengers present to protect them in answer to the prayer of faith. They will overcome the weaknesses of their character and go on unto perfection.” Adventist Home, p. 315.3.

When Praying For The Sick

James 5:14-16 (NKJV) "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

Mark 5:34 (NKJV) "And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

Mark 10:52 (NKJV) "Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road."

“His disciples in this time are to pray for the sick as verily as His disciples of old prayed. And recoveries will follow, for “the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” James 5:15. We need the Holy Spirit's power, the calm assurance of faith that can claim God's promises.” Review and Herald, June 9, 1904.

“We believe in the prayer of faith; but some have carried this matter too far, especially those who have been affected with fanaticism. Some have taken the strong ground that it was wrong to use simple remedies. We have never taken this position, but have opposed it. We believe it to be perfectly right to use the remedies God has placed in our reach, and if these fail, apply to the great Physician, and in some cases the counsel of an earthly physician is very necessary. This position we have always held.” Spiritual Gifts, Vols. 2, p. 135.1.

“I understand the text in James is to be carried out when a person is sick upon his bed; if he calls for the elders of the church, and they carry out the directions in James, anointing the sick with oil, in the name of the Lord, praying over him the prayer of faith. We read, “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” It cannot be our duty to call for the elders of the church for every little ailment we have, for this would be putting a task upon the elders. If all should do this, their time would be fully employed,—they could do nothing else; but the Lord gives us the privilege of seeking Him individually in earnest prayer, of unburdening our souls to Him, keeping nothing from Him who has invited us, “Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” O how grateful we should be that Jesus is willing and able to bear all our infirmities and strengthen and heal all our diseases if it will be for our good and for His glory. Some died in the days of Christ and in the days of the apostles because the Lord knew just what was best for them. I would not speak one word to lessen your faith and perplex and worry you. There is never danger of our being too much in earnest and having too much confidence and trust in God. Be of good courage; look to Jesus constantly.” The Paulson Collection, p. 28.2

“The prayer of faith in the sickroom, short and right to the point, prepares the way for the grace of God to speak to the soul. Even unbelievers feel this--to them--strange and new influence, and realize that God can and will hear their prayers. You cannot know, you who pray in the sickroom, what will be accomplished, and what has been accomplished, by the prayer of faith. By simple prayer the sick have been encouraged to believe that God will look with compassion upon them, else that prayer would never have been offered in their behalf. A ray of light penetrates to the hopeless soul, and becomes a savor of life unto life.” Manuscript Releases, p. 43.2

Do “not let the idea prevail that the Health Retreat is a place where the sick are healed by the prayer of faith. There are instances when this will be done, and we need to have faith in God constantly. Let no one think that those who have abused themselves and taken no intelligent care of themselves can come to the Health Retreat and be healed by the prayer of faith, for this is presumption. I see so little wisdom, so little good common sense exercised by some of our brethren that my heart is sick, sore, and distressed. They do not have sensible ideas and do not honor God. They have need of a divine touch. If the idea should once prevail that the sick can come to the Institute to be cured by the prayer of faith, you will have such a state of things there that you cannot now discern even if I should point it out to you in the best English language I could command.” Letter 57, 1886, pp. 2, 3.

When Resisting Satan

Luke 10:19 (NKJV) "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."

James 4:7 (NKJV) "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NKJV) "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ...."

“If Satan sees that he is in danger of losing one soul, he will exert himself to the utmost to keep that one. And when the individual is aroused to his danger, and, with distress and fervor, looks to Jesus for strength, Satan fears that he will lose a captive, and he calls a reinforcement of his angels to hedge in the poor soul, and form a wall of darkness around him, that heaven's light may not reach him. But if the one in danger perseveres, and in his helplessness casts himself upon the merits of the blood of Christ, our Saviour listens to the earnest prayer of faith, and sends a reinforcement of those angels that excel in strength to deliver him.      Satan cannot endure to have his powerful rival appealed to, for he fears and trembles before His strength and majesty. At the sound of fervent prayer, Satan's whole host trembles. He continues to call legions of evil angels to accomplish his object. And when angels, all-powerful, clothed with the armory of heaven, come to the help of the fainting, pursued soul, Satan and his host fall back, well knowing that their battle is lost.” Counsels for the Church, p. 319.2,3

“There are few who have any just conception of the deceptive power of spiritualism and the danger of coming under its influence. Many tamper with it merely to gratify their curiosity. They have no real faith in it and would be filled with horror at the thought of yielding themselves to the spirits' control. But they venture upon the forbidden ground, and the mighty destroyer exercises his power upon them against their will. Let them once be induced to submit their minds to his direction, and he holds them captive. It is impossible, in their own strength, to break away from the bewitching, alluring spell. Nothing but the power of God, granted in answer to the earnest prayer of faith, can deliver these ensnared souls.” Great Controversy, p. 558.2.

“The prayer of faith is the great strength of the Christian, and will assuredly prevail against Satan. This is why he insinuates that we have no need of prayer. The name of Jesus, our Advocate, he detests; and when we earnestly come to Him for help, Satan's host is alarmed. It serves his purpose well if we neglect the exercise of prayer, for then his lying wonders are more readily received.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 296.

“Pray much. Prayer is the life of the soul. The prayer of faith is the weapon by which we may successfully resist every assault of the enemy.” Signs of the Times, August 24, 1904 par. 9.

“Man is Satan’s captive and is naturally inclined to follow his suggestions and do his bidding. He has in himself no power to oppose effectual resistance to evil. It is only as Christ abides in him by living faith, influencing his desires and strengthening him with strength from above, that man may venture to face so terrible a foe. Every other means of defense is utterly vain. It is only through Christ that Satan’s power is limited. This is a momentous truth that all should understand. Satan is busy every moment, going to and fro, walking up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may devour. But the earnest prayer of faith will baffle his strongest efforts. Then take “the shield of faith,” brethren, “wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 294.

When Witnessing

Matthew 9:37-38 (NKJV) "Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

2 Corinthians 1:11 (NKJV) "You also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many."

1 Thessalonians 5:25 (NKJV) "Brethren, pray for us."

“Let your prayers follow the servants of God like sharp sickles in the harvest field. God will hear the earnest entreaties of his people. The prayer of faith will move the arm of God.” Signs of the Times, September 4, 1879. “The record shows that prayers of faith, though offered by frail human beings, have power with God. The earnest cry, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me," has saved many a soul. If there were far more urgent intercessions for perishing souls, there would be far more souls saved.” Review and Herald, 11, 1909 par. 9

“Let every one who give of his means, also send up his prayers daily that it may bring souls to the foot of the cross. And in every church, once a week at least, let there be a season set apart for praying for this work. Let all be united, not mingling in their petitions other wants, such as blessings for the sick and needy, but having a specific object for their faith and entreaties. Brethren, move high heaven by your prayers for God to work with the efforts of his servants. The Lord has agencies which he will put in operation in answer to the importunate prayers of faith. He will fulfill his word, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Review and Herald, October 12, 1886 par. 14  

When Claiming God's Blessings

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NKJV) "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV) "But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

“There are many who, though striving to obey God's commandments, have little peace or joy. This lack in their experience is the result of a failure to exercise faith. They walk as it were in a salt land, a parched wilderness. They claim little, when they might claim much; for there is no limit to the promises of God. Such ones do not correctly represent the sanctification that comes through obedience to the truth. The Lord would have all His sons and daughters happy, peaceful, and obedient. Through the exercise of faith the believer comes into possession of these blessings. Through faith, every deficiency of character may be supplied, every defilement cleansed, every fault corrected, every excellence developed. Prayer is heaven's ordained means of success in the conflict with sin and the development of Christian character. The divine influences that come in answer to the prayer of faith will accomplish in the soul of the suppliant all for which he pleads. For the pardon of sin, for the Holy Spirit, for a Christ-like temper, for wisdom and strength to do His work, for any gift He has promised, we may ask; and the promise is, ‘Ye shall receive.’” The Acts of the Apostles, p. 564.

In Ministerial Work

Romans 15:30-31 (NKJV) "Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,"

Ephesians 6:18-20 (NKJV) "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

Colossians 4:3 (NKJV) "Meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,"

2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NKJV) "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you,"

“Our ministers do not wrestle all night in prayer, as many godly ministers before us have done. They sit up bent over tables, writing lessons, or preparing articles to be read by thousands; they arrange facts in shape to convince the mind in regard to doctrine. All these things are essential; but how much God can do for us in sending light and convicting power to hearts in answer to the prayer of faith!” Review and Herald, Apr. 22, 1884.

“When we have men as devoted as Elijah, and possessing the faith which he had, we shall see that God will reveal himself to us as he did to holy men of old. When we have men, who, while they acknowledge their deficiencies, will plead with God in earnest faith, as did Jacob, we shall see the same results. Power will come from God to man in answer to the prayer of faith. There is but little faith in the world. There are but few who are living near to God. And how can we expect more power, and that God will reveal himself to men, when his word is handled negligently, and when hearts are not sanctified through the truth? Men who are not half converted, who are self-confident and self-sufficient in character, preach the truth to others. But God does not work with them, for they are not holy in heart and life. They do not walk humbly with God. We must have a converted ministry, and then we shall see the light of God, and his power aiding all our efforts.” Gospel Workers, (1892 edition), p. 21.1.

“In every department of the cause of God, consecrated, God-fearing, willing helpers are needed; men of brains, men of intellect, who will go forth as ministers, canvassers, and colporteurs. Brethren and sisters, let the earnest prayer of faith ascend to God that He will raise up laborers, and send them into the harvest field; for the harvest is great, and the laborers are few.” Review and Herald, Nov. 20, 1883.

Additional Thoughts

So what is the prayer of faith? I like what one person said: "A definite request… made in definite faith, for a definite answer.” It goes without saying that wonderful answers come in answer to the prayer of faith. Many read about this prayer in James 5:15, but don't really know what it is. I hope the scriptures and quotations help clarify and enable many effective, answer and solution-bringing, prayers of faith! Do you have stories of how God answered your prayers of faith? Please write and share them with me.—Dan

Additional Study

To study this subject for yourself, search the words "faith" and "prayer" at egwwritings.org. Of course search the phrase "prayer of faith." Be sure to use the quotations marks. You will find quite a few results. To get through the results sooner, scroll through the quotes in the "paragraph" view. If you are using software that can do boolean searches, here is a good string: 

"prayer of faith" (prayer OR praying OR supplication OR supplicate OR supplicant OR entreat OR wrestle OR beg)