Growing Your Faith

As a pastor, one of the questions I have been asked more than any other is, "How do I grow my faith?" This makes sense, since we know it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). The level of our faith often makes the difference between obedience and disobedience, contentment and discontentment, confidence and fear. Thus, it is wise and normal that we would want to find out how to grow our faith. The challenge, of course, is that the Bible describes faith as a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8, 2 Peter 1:1, Philippians 1:29). So how can we make ourselves grow in something we have no control over?

@@As a pastor, one of the questions I have been asked more than any other is "How do I grow my faith"@@

First, we have to recognize that faith is not something we can manufacture. If you don't believe me, try it. If I were to offer you $1,000,000 to make yourself believe that Bobby Brown is standing next to you right now, singing his #1 hit, "My Prerogative," you would desperately want to believe it. You would try anything and everything to make yourself believe that yes, in fact, Bobby Barrisford Brown is standing next to you performing his classic song. But even with the internal motivation of $1,000,000, you simply could not make yourself believe it, no matter how hard you tried. The only way you would believe it is if the one and only Bobby Brown truly were actually physically present, right before your eyes -- and even then, it wouldn't have been you causing our own faith to grow in Bobby Brown's presence, but an outside force (namely, Bobby Brown) causing your faith to grow.

@@Faith is not something you can manufacture.@@

Thus, the short answer to the question "How do I grow my faith?" is "You can't." You cannot make yourself believe something nor can you make yourself believe something more. Yet this does not mean we are hopeless. While it is true that faith is a gift from God that we cannot manufacture, it is equally true that there are things we can do to put ourselves in a position where we are more likely to grow in the gift of faith. 

I like to compare this to the planting of seeds. When you plant seeds in your garden you have no control over whether or not they will grow. You are completely dependent on God to cause your seeds to become the vegetables you are hoping they become. But this does not mean that you do nothing and simply hope for the best. No, there are specific actions you can control which make it more likely that God will cause your seed to grow, even though they don't force God's hand to make it grow. First, you choose the right season to plant them in. Second, you find the best soil that puts the seed in the best possible environment to thrive. Third, you prepare the soil as best you can. Then, after doing everything you can to put your seeds in the most growth-friendly environment, you wait for God to cause the sun to shine and the rain to fall. If the seed grows, it is because God chose to give it what it needed to grow. 

This is what we can do as we hope to grow our faith. We cannot make it grow any more than we can make a seed grow into a plant, but we can put ourselves in the right soil, at the right time, in the right way and hope God sends the metaphorical sun and rain that will cause our faith to grow. The Bible gives us four specific things we can do to put ourselves in the best possible soil and make our faith more likely to grow.

First, we expose ourselves to God's Word. Romans 10:17 tells us directly that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (NKJV). Thus, the more and more you expose yourself to God's Word through reading the Bible, listening to sermons, singing songs etc..., the more likely you are to see your faith grow.

The second thing we can to in pursuit of seeing our faith grow is involve ourselves in Christian community. This is illustrated in the letter of Hebrews, which was written to a group of Christians who were tempted to abandon the faith as they knew it. The author encourages his readers to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering" (Hebrews 10:23, NKJV) which is a call to maintain faith in the face of temptation and even persecution. He then immediately points to the gathering of the local church as the means by which this might be accomplished, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25, NKJV). If you want to grow in your faith, the best soil for you to plant yourself in is the soil of the local church.    

A third place we can turn in pursuit of growing our faith is prayer. Since faith is a gift from God, it stands to reason that we should turn to him when we desire more of it. This is what the father of the demon-possessed boy did when he cried out in prayer, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NKJV). Jesus is willing and able to answer our prayer, just as he did for the boy’s father. Yet, even if we don’t sense an immediate answer, the very act of doing it allows us to use and practice whatever faith we already have. This itself may be what God uses to grow our faith. 

Lastly, one of the most fertile soils for seeing our faith grow is suffering. The Apostle Peter explains that it is through our suffering and trials “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7, NKJV). This does not mean you should go out and seek suffering in hopes of growing your faith. It does mean that when suffering comes you do not have to despair. Rather, you can see God’s hand in the midst of it as he uses it to grow your faith in him, which is “much more precious than gold.” 

In conclusion, because faith is of such grand importance, we should all be aiming to see ours grow. In pursuit of this, we must be careful to avoid two errors. We must avoid the error of thinking we can manufacture it ourselves by just “believing more” and we must avoid the error of merely waiting for it to grow on its own. Instead, we should put ourselves in the best position to see God grow it by exposing ourselves to God’s Word, involving ourselves in the local church, praying for our faith to grow, and allowing suffering to do the work in us that God intends.  

Cole Brown is a Humble Beast author and speaker. He is the founding pastor of Emmaus Church, a multi-ethnic church in Portland, and now serves as a missionary helping plant churches in Mexico City, Mexico. Connect with him on twitter or facebook