The well-known composer and pianist Rubenstein is quoted as having said something like the following: “If I fail to practice even a single day, I will notice it immediately. If I won’t practice two days my friends will notice it too, and finally, when I fail to practice three days in a row, the whole world will notice it.”
And I believe he is right. It’s like the age-old saying, ‘practice makes perfect,’ and it applies to our faith as well.
Faith is like a muscle. It grows stronger by practice and exercise. When nothing is being done in the area of strengthening our faith, our faith muscles will become flabby and we can’t use them to run the race that is set before us. Ultimately we will fail in reaching the goals that Jesus had in mind for us.
Faith is not something that suddenly appears, although some people seem to think so and are surprised when in a difficult situation, they find out they can’t actually lean on their faith since it is flabby and untrained.
Bear in mind that faith is not the same as salvation, although they are closely related.
Salvation is God’s gift and we can’t work for it. It’s a gift of grace, and although faith in many ways is a gift too, like the muscles in your body are a gift as well, faith has to be nurtured and trained. Salvation does not need to be trained and nurtured. It is a gift; given once, and valuable for eternity.
Jesus Himself compares the growing of faith to a mustard seed, one of the smallest of all known seeds and yet, if planted in the good soil it can become a mighty tree, strong and immovable.
What then can we do to help our faith to grow?
Again, the Bible gives us clear guidance in Romans 10:17. “Now then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
Only by listening to the words of Jesus and by meditating upon his spirit-filled words will our faith grow. Just reading the word is not enough. It also has to be assimilated, like a good meal has to be digested by the body.
Of course, God can answer prayer in an instant, if He so sees fit, even the prayers of people with little faith. It happened before and can happen again, but the answer of a prayer in itself is no indication of a strong, persistent faith that can stand the storms of life and will not break under pressure. That kind of faith can only exist through faithful study of the word of God, and dear and daily communication with the Master Himself.
An athlete who decides to stop practicing because it just takes too much of his time, will undoubtedly not qualify for the Olympics and will no longer win any events. A doctor who decides he no longer needs to keep up to date with the latest techniques of surgery will soon be an untrustworthy doctor and may lose his job.
We will never lose the love of God. That is a given, but the candle of our faith may soon flicker out, and our usefulness to the Kingdom will dwindle to a bare minimum if we are not faithful in our time with the Savior Himself.
We need to jealously guard our faith and seek shelter under the wings of the Almighty. It’s just common sense to strive for the Gospel and make the necessary sacrifices to stay in touch with the Savior.
The famous missionary doctor David Livingstone had something to say about it as well. He said, “I am determined to give my all for the Savior. I won’t quit until I reach the finish line and I have reached my goals.”
Good advice for all of us. There is a whole world waiting for the touch of Jesus, and we, as His children, can act as His hands and feet.