Hear. Speak. Do.
The Bible describes a process of faith formation, one that integrally involves the Word at every step:
Hearing the Word initiates faith.
Speaking the Word activates faith.
Doing the Word demonstrates faith.
Hearing the Word Initiates Faith
Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."
There's only one place you can acquire faith: you've got to go to the Word of God. And in the pages of the Scriptures, as God's promises become personal to you, your faith potential is ignited. Hopefully that's what's been happening to you as you've been reading. Each biblical example of audacious faith should cause your own spiritual circuit board to light up. The same thing happens every time you go to church and hear a sermon from the Bible.
So to live by audacious faith, you're going to need to become very familiar with your Bible. You're going to need to saturate your mind with the Word of God. If your faith isn't rooted in God's promises, it's not scriptural faith. It's just wishful thinking.
Remember, Joshua had the right to pray a Sun Stand Still prayer because his prayer was based on a promise God had made to the Israelites. God had promised to fight for them. God had promised to defeat their enemies. Joshua was occupying the Promised Land that God had guaranteed to his people. So Joshua's confidence didn't spring out of the void. It was born out of God's Word, which had been integrated into Joshua's thinking and shpaed his way of seeing the world.
You can't claim God's promises if you don't know God's promises. That's why God specifically commanded Joshua:
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7)
In order to be successful, Joshua had to be obedient. And obedience comes only by hearing and doing the Word of God. Hearing comes before doing.
To really pray with power and trust Jesus radically, you need to consume as much of God's Word as you possibly can. Increase your exposure to teaching and preaching about Jesus. Prioritize the presence of God in your daily life. That's where the power of belief takes hold and the process of true faith begins.
Speaking the Word Activates Faith
This is one of those things that I didn't learn in church growing up. And honestly, the first time I heard about speaking God's Word, the whole concept seemed kooky to me. It conjured up images of monks singing Gregorian chants and televangelists preaching fiery sermons at 2 a.m.
But over the last several years, God has shown me how important it is to speak his Word in my daily life. It's sort of a missing link for a lot of Christians. A lot of people get information from the Word of God, but no real transformation happens as a result.
So if hearing God's Word is like turning the key in the ignition, then speaking God's Word is like putting the car in drive.
Every time you encounter God's Word, the potential for faith is born. And this isn't just a one-time thing. It doesn't just apply to saving faith--the type of faith that initially brings you into a relationship with God. This is also the way faith is introduced into every single area of your life. When you hear the Word of God concerning a particular issue, need, or reality, the possibility to increase your faith is in play.
But then it is your responsibility to activate that faith. And you do that through speaking God's Word. Let's review the details of God's instructions to Joshua again:
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night. (Joshua 1:8)
I think most of us subconsciously translate that command to mean: Do not let this book of the Law depart from your heart. Or from your mind.
But that's not what God said. He specifically told Joshua to keep his Word in his mouth. Before Joshua could make his Sun Stand Still prayer, he had to make the ways and words of God a natural part of his vocabulary--in speaking to others and in speaking to himself.
Some of the best sermons I've ever preached in my life have not been delivered behind the pulpit at my church. Some of the best messages on faith I've spoken weren't written down for the world to read in a book. The best leadership challenges I've issued have not gone forth at conferences all across the nation. Some of the best sermons I've ever preached in my life have been the ones I've preached to myself.
In fact, I preach to myself all the time. I've preached sermons to myself that were so good I wanted to give myself an offering and respond to my own altar call. I have to preach to myself just to keep going sometimes.
Some days I get frustrated with my own inconsistency. I feel like I just keep letting God down over and over again. So I preach to myself from Lamentations 3:22-23:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
And as I speak God's Word to myself, I'm reminded that God's mercy can convert the mistakes of my past into wisdom for my future. It's a new day.
Some days I feel weak and limited. The vision that God has put inside me seems so much bigger than the resources around me. So I preach to myself from 2 Corinthians 9:8:
God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
And as I rehearse this guarantee, my faith is reactivated. My perspective is renewed. I recalculate my resources according to what God's Word says instead of what my mind thinks or my emotions feel.
How many times during his leadership tenure do you think Joshua revisited God's words to him about being strong and courageous? I like to imagine that just before he laid it all on the line that day and commanded the sun to stand still, he muttered under his breath, "Be strong and courageous...be strong and courageous...be strong and courageous..."
And let me assure you: this speaking-the-Word thing isn't just for preachers like me and Bible heroes like Joshua. If you want to get really good at walking in audacious faith, you're going to have to get really good at preaching God's Word to yourself too.
You see, there are going to be many points along the way when you're not going to have anyone around to motivate you or encourage you. And in those moments, you'd better be able to open God's Word, look in the mirror, and remind yourslef of the truth. As you incorporate God's Word into your vocabulary, the way you see your circumstances will begin to shift. Your faith will start to rise higher than your feelings and your fears. And it all starts with speaking the Word.
Doing the Word Demonstrates Faith
Before we get too crazy preaching in the mirror, there's a sobering warning in the Bible that we need to look at. The book of James scathingly confronts people who claim to have faith but refuse to do something about it. James sums it up this way:
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (2:17)
So it's possible for us to hear God's Word, take notes, memorize Scripture, and speak God's Word out loud until everybody thinks we're smoking crack, yet never walk in true audacious faith. Becuase it's not really faith until we do it. Authentic faith doesn't end in a positive mental state. It plays out in total obedience based on the sure Word of God.
One time, Jesus told his disciples to get in a boat and head out to the next ministry appointment while he stayed behind to spend some time in prayer. The disciples dutifully complied. Jesus neglected to tell the disciples, however, that they would encounter a storm along the way that would threaten to end their lives. That's where things get interesting. We'll pick up the story in Matthew 14:25-29:
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
In this single, simple biblical account, all three of the stages of faith formation I've been describing are on full display.
It starts with Peter hearing the words of Jesus. This is how his faith is initiated. It's what transforms him from just another terrified disciple in the boat to a potential water walker. He recognizes Jesus' voice. He realizes the potential of the moment. This is the man who could possibly save his life. But at this point, his faith isn't out in the open. It's just starting to rise inside.
As you read this and digest God's Word, your level of belief is lifting. It's initiating your faith and expanding your horizons. But that's not the finish line--it's just the beginning. You're still in the boat. You've simply heard the Word.
The next step is to speak it. To activate the faith that has been initiated. Peter does this when he shouts back to Jesus: "If it's you, tell me to come." What's he doing? He is vocalizing an expressioin of his faith. He's committing verbally. He's taking it public. He's putting this miracle in motioin.
But the deal isn't done at this point. We don't teach this story to our kids in Sunday school because Peter and Jesus carry on an interesting conversation. This story is memorable and fascinating because Peter gets out of the boat and transcends the law of buoyancy. It's not until his foot hits the water that his faith is demonstrated. It's not until he risks failure, embarrassment, and physical harm that the supernatural power of Jesus starts working on his behalf.
Your faith isn't going to magically increase simply because you want to do big things for God or because you'd like to be able to sleep better at night. Your faith can mature only as you methodically develop it through God's faith-formation process:
Hear the Word.
Speak the Word.
Do the Word.
Adapted from "Sun Stand Still" by Steven Furtick