What does "faith" mean?
What does it mean to believe?
That's a pretty important question for anyone interested in being a serious Christian because so many of the Bible's promises are conditioned on faith. For example:
Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
One of the best explanations of what Jesus meant by the word "faith" was advanced by Robert Lindsey. LIndsey is one of a group of scholars including David Flusser, Brad Young, Marvin Wilson, Shmuel Safrai, Joseph Frankovic and others who are working to explain how the words of Jesus would have been understood by Jesus' audience, i.e. first century Jews. Along these lines Bob Lindsey suggests that the English word which best corresponds to the actual word that Jesus used for faith is "chutzpah." Here's a nice explanation of this I came across from a book by Francis MacNutt called, Healing. Mr. MacNutt used to be a Catholic priest and has a pretty well known healing ministry. Here's the blurb about "chutzpah" from his book:
" Without hesitation Bob said, "Chutzpah." Now, chutzpah is a Yiddish slang term meaning something like 'nerve' or 'brass,' 'extreme confidence in action.' In today's terms a person with chutzpah is someone who 'goes for it.' A classic Jewish story about chutzpah describes how a boy murdered his mother and father, and then threw himself at the mercy of the judge on the grounds that he was an orphan. Now that's chutzpah!"
So when Jesus tells us to have "faith" when we pray, he means for us to have confidence, boldness, assuredness, even brashness. The English word which I think best defines "chutzpah," is audacity. To have faith is to have audacity. To have faith in God is to be bold, assured and brash. To have faith in prayer means to be audacious in praying. Most Christians have little confidence in receiving what they pray for. Most think of prayer as thoroughly unreliable. They have absolutely no idea if their prayer will be answered. In other words, where prayer to God is concerned, they lack chutzpah, they have little faith. The Christian with chutzpah, on the other hand has a confidence so bold, so brash, so assured of receiving what he has asked of God that most Christians would consider him to be arrogant and impertinent and presumptuous and they might even say, "What Chutzpah!"
Let me show you from one of Jesus' parables, the one normally referred to as the Parable of the Importunate Friend, that this is exactly the attitude that Jesus expects us to have when it comes to prayer.