This quote of Papa Hagin's really helped straighten out my thinking when it comes to what faith is:
“Real faith accompanies knowledge of the Word of God. It takes no effort whatsoever on the part of the intellect or the will of man to obtain faith. Faith accompanies knowledge. As soon as the light of knowledge comes, faith is there. As the Psalmist of old said,
“The entrance of thy words giveth light . . .” (Ps. 119:130).
People often pray for faith. But what they actually need is knowledge of God’s Word! When the knowledge of God’s Word comes, faith will automatically be there. You could pray forever to have faith, but if you don’t get any knowledge of God’s Word, you will never get faith.
Feed on God’s Word. Meditate on God’s Word. And remember,
“. . . faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).”
(Excerpt From: Kenneth E. Hagin. “Faith Food Devotions.” Faith Library Publications, 2013-10-18. iBooks. Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/JSt6R.l)
I'd put it this way, faith, the first part of faith, the knowing part of faith, is not an act of your will. You don't just decide to believe. Faith doesn't come by saying, "I believe… I believe… I believe…." This first part of faith isn't the result of determining, "I WILL BELIEVE!" This knowing part of faith is no more an act of your will than seeing with your physical eyes is an act of your will.
If you walk into a dark room willing yourself to see, determining to see, resolving to see, will not help you to see. But the moment the light is turned on it takes no effort on your part, no strength of will, no determination, to see. When the light comes seeing is there.
It works the same way with faith. When the light comes, faith is there.
What keeps the light from coming?
One of the things that keeps us from seeing is wrong teaching. Bad teaching can keep the word from getting into our heart. Jesus never had any trouble getting faith into non-religious people. It was the throughly religiously indoctrinated who had difficulty believing what Jesus said. Papa Hagin said in another place:
"I learned a long time ago that if I can bypass peoples' heads and get it into their spirits I can get them well every time. But that's a big job to bypass peoples' heads… That's where our problem is, is bypassing peoples' heads… getting it into their spirit… Well now how's that going to become real to your spirit, as long as you're questioning it and doubting it in your head it never will register on your spirit. But it will register on your spirit eventually if you'll meditate on it long enough." (You can hear that portion of Papa Hagin's message, here.)
So, if you've been taught all your life that material things aren't important to God, it's going to be really hard for you to get any light on prosperity. If you been taught that healing and miracles passed away, it's going to be hard for you to have faith for healing. If you've been taught that you can't be certain if God will answer your prayer, it's going to be difficult for you to 'see' that you received the thing when you prayed.
That's why we just keep teaching, and teaching, and teaching, God's word to the best of our ability.