Faith, I think, is far too mystical and difficult to nail down as a solidly defined word. I think that a better word, and one that is equally valid, in place of faith, is trust. Trust brings faith back into the tangible, graspable reality that we live in and out of the ethereal mystery that it has been enshrouded in.
Any relationship which we have in our life is built on a level of trust which we have cultivated with that person, and so also with God! He has presented Himself to us as a father, and He did so in order to give us a grid for how to relate to and interact with Him. Therefore, if He is a Father, then it stands to reason that we approach Him as such, not treating Him as some far-off, mystical, magical, mysterious, cosmic phenomenon that we don’t understand, but as a father who desires to be with us, is close, kind, hears us, and with whom we are constantly building relationship. And the foundation of any relationship is trust!
Thankfully though, we need not have trust/faith in God without some basis of reason, blind faith is not required in trusting Him. The Bible, the written words about God, detail His interactions with His people throughout history, sort of like His resume of trustworthiness. It is because of these accounts of trustworthiness in the past that we can then venture to trust Him in our present as well as forward into future. The story of Moses parting the Red Sea allows me to give my trust to God, not that a sea will be parted for me necessarily, but that just as God was faithful/trustworthy to Moses, so also will He be to us.
But, what if I haven’t built up yet the level of trust in my relationship with God in order to overcome a large obstacle in my life? This is where the operation of the gift of faith comes into play. It is the supernatural outworking, not of my faith in God, but God’s faith in operation within me, lending me His heavenly, high perspective, from which I can see above and look down on my problem rather than looking up at its seeming insurmountable heights. Then, in these instances where we lack trust and we operate according to the gift of faith/trust, it then no longer rests on my ability to trust God but in God’s trust for Himself.
For, God, Himself, has faith/trust within Himself. God is triune, three persons, one God. This means that He is in community within Himself and therefore also there is a perfect faith/trust between each of them towards each other because they are one with each other. So, then, the gift of faith allows us to pull from their faith/trust in each other in order to raise our perspective above our problem and so be able to overcome it without fear of it.
The following is a simple exercise in hearing God’s voice for yourself, for faith/trust comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God. This word of God does not refer to the bible, but the active speaking voice of God in our present day, since we have a relationship with a being not with an omnipotent idea to be comprehended. Therefore, if we really want to build faith/trust in God, we must be willing to speak to Him and trust Him to speak back in return.
The exercise is quite simple:
1. Close your eyes and focus
2. Ask the Lord, either in your mind or out loud, to show you why He is trustworthy
3. Take the first thing that comes into your mind, whether it is a memory, image, thought, smell, etc. (Trust that the Lord wants to speak to you and apart from it being something horrible, it is probably the Lord)
4. Ask Him why He showed you that and ask what it was about that that you needed in order to be able to trust Him in your present/future situations in life.
Faith, when recast as trust, brings it out of the clouds of mystery and lands it within reach of us, His kids, with whom He wants to continue to develop a relationship with over our whole lives by demonstrating His trustworthiness time and time again. Let Him speak and He will, Himself, show you the ways in which He is trustworthy.