Twenty years ago – July 2001 – my entire being was in a deep struggle. I had been addicted to cigarettes for more than 10 years and now I was a baptized SDA and I still couldn't shake my habit.
I'd been praying: "God please take away the cigarettes." As I write the words today it seems kind of silly to pray like that, but I hadn't seen the error in my thoughts yet.
What was the error?
I had been going to church believing God would deliver… somehow. I was doing all I could to kick the habit, even living in a camping trailer in the mountains where there were no cigarettes.
But cigarettes were not the real problem, neither was it that super sly Devil, tempting me at every moment. The problem was a lack/misunderstanding of faith, for it is written:
Therefore I say unto you, 'What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.' (Mark 11:24)
It's a small shift between the faith that God will answer prayer and the faith that He has already done it… but the two have vastly different outcomes.
One day I was reading John 17, the lovely prayer of our altogether lovely Jesus, and when Jesus said this it impacted me: "I pray that they be in the world but not of the world…"
I asked our Lord, "How can I be in the world with cigarettes and not be a partaker?"
At that moment it dawned on me that God was going to change me, not the world. In fact God can't change the world because this would require force… but more on that later.
Realizing that the work that God was going to do was to change my desire for cigarettes, I instantly prayed: "Our Father in heaven, take away my desire for cigarettes!" And like the lights blacking out the desire was gone, which gave me the faith to resist the temptations yet to come.
This was wonderful and all, to finally be free from that difficult addiction that seemed to be like a huge powerful gorilla on my back, but I still had a long way to go to learn the small shift lesson of believing in answered prayer or beliefs.
Yes, I did write answered beliefs because this can greatly affect the outcome of even a prayer of faith – as we will soon see.
Since that experience I've been exercising faith saying, "Father take away my desire (lust) of the flesh" and it would work, but only at first and then the desire/lust would start creeping back in. I learned that this lust for the flesh was actual a desire for comfort, which actually meant it was a desire for Jesus to come near to me: so I changed my prayer to "Father be thou my comforter in Jesus name!"
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb (Genesis 49:25)
From the book Comforter at https://fatheroflove.info/book/view/comforter
But still this was not effective to bring that joy that is in the presence of the Lord, because it was missing the vital Faith that echoes the words of Jesus who said The Father answers our prayers before we pray them;² and I was adding sin to sin by not believing³ it. So now I can show my faith by saying "Thank you Lord for delivering me from my sin!"
² Mat 6:8 KJV Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
³ Num 23:19 KJV God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Now my faith is full like a flood of water filling a dry creek bed, there’s no room for air (doubt), and my expression of rejoicing that God has delivered shows my faith – no statements of doubt from the other side can stay under the water of faith, for they must leave like bubbles.
When we look at all the healing Jesus did in the Bible, He often said "your faith made you whole" or some equivalent. It's our faith in God though Christ that makes the change.
Eph 2:8 KJV For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Num 14:28 KJV Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
Mat 9:29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
Luk 17:19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Luk 8:48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
Mar 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
Mar 5:34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Mat 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.