Jonathan Edwards and Resolutions (29): Prayer and Faith
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
Many people look at passages such as James 5:14-15 and believe that our faith in prayer or lack thereof motivates certain outcomes. If we have faith, "X" will happen. If we don't have faith "Y" will happen. At first glance, one could glean that from Edwards' 29th resolution, but a deeper look will help us understand this particular resolution. Faith isn't wishing or manipulating outcomes and we certainly do not put our faith in prayer or our faith in faith itself. Our faith is in our Triune God alone.
Christian faith is a steadfast trust and submission to God and His sovereign plan for our lives even if that plan is hidden. Prayer is a means by which we express this trust in God and as we express this trust in Him, our will is conformed to His will (John 14:13). As we are conformed more into the image of Jesus so are our prayers. We began to pray knowing God hears us because He is near to us (Matthew 27:51). We confess our sins to God because in Christ we know that He is faithful to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9).